The image of the charcoal fire in the Gospel of John is an image of divine mercy. John very deliberately contrasts these two scenes in his Gospel. Thus, I have chosen this imagery for my little Web log.
Over the first charcoal fire, Peter thrice denied having even known Jesus. Over the second charcoal fire, Peter thrice affirmed his love for Jesus. As the first charcoal fire burned, darkness overcame Peter. As the second charcoal fire burned, the purifying light and heat prepared him for what would follow. The Lord himself, almighty victor over death, has in His infinite mercy prepared the fire for Peter, who receives this commission to “feed my lambs … tend my sheep … feed my sheep.” From thenceforth, Peter himself burns, full of authority, boldness, and zeal. And he would later be put to a final test, and this time, he would heed the words of the Lord, “Follow me.”
Each of us, too--when the Lord comes again in His great glory, having reduced the old creation into embers and having raised us up in our bodies to bring us into the new heavens--will pass into judgment over the fire of testing. In His mercy, He will forget our many sins if we repent as Peter did. Let us be prepared, then, knowing that we hear Peter's questions: "Do you love me?"
We are united by our common faith and manner of life in confessing our great love for our Lord, Jesus Christ, to whom be power and glory forever and ever.
καὶ ταῦτα γράφομεν ἡμεῖς ἵνα ἡ χαρὰ ἡμῶν ᾖ πεπληρωμένη (1 Jn 1:4).