Redemption At the Place of Pain


When we turn to Christ in times of great loneliness, our comfort is not in the doctrine of the resurrection, but in His fellowship with us.

There are only two places in all of the New Testament where a “charcoal fire” is described in just those words. One is one on which Jesus cooked and to which He welcomed His dripping, wounded friend. The other, the first, was in Caiaphas’ courtyard, at which Peter warmed his hands. There, identified as a Galilean and a friend of Jesus, Peter cursed and denied the man who had prophesied that he would do so. 

Perhaps Jesus prepared just such a fire, recreated a place of painful remembrance where Peter could be healed of his most crippling memory. Two of the post resurrection appearances of Jesus are at table. With a meal, Jesus offered comfort at Emmaus and grace in Galilee. His resurrection meant personal fellowship, renewal of relationship, and a new life free of guilt and condemnation.

When, in our moments of deepest loneliness, we turn to Christ, our comfort is not in the doctrine of the resurrection but in His fellowship with us. That is the message of Emmaus. He listens and explains. He walks with us, breaks bread with us, and comforts us with words of revelation. 

In Galilee it was different. Peter was not looking for understanding. The kind of biblical instruction Jesus gave on the road to Emmaus would have meant little to Peter on that chilly dawn. Peter was not looking for Old Covenant insight on the crucifixion of Messiah. He longed for New Covenant grace granted by a risen Lord.

Jesus did not ignore Peter’s sinful denial. He met him in the place of pain, re-created the setting, and summoned Peter back there. Alive again, not separate from Peter’s remorse, but alive within it, Jesus rose not just for Peter, but to Peter. The resurrection of Jesus Christ was personal, had to be personal, had to mean healing and forgiveness for Simon Peter, or it meant nothing for humanity at large.

The resurrection of Christ was, of course, for all humanity. Its announcement, however, its human expression, was up close and personal, to individuals, not to the masses. To Mary first, then to the chaps on the road to Emmaus, and at last to Peter on the rocky beach of Lake Gennesaret, Jesus rose to individuals. These isolated appearances speak to the very point of the resurrection. Mary was the point. Peter was the point. Renewed fellowship with the wounded and fallen, fellowship with french fries on the side is the very personal point of Christ’s resurrection.

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