Monday, February 6, 2017

Morning Smoke

One of my favorite Biblical stories comes in the 21st chapter of John after Jesus serves breakfast on the beach.  Reading between the lines with a healthy imagination enables me to see Jesus rising from the ground, clearing His throat, nodding His head toward Simon Peter in an invitational kind of way, and then walking off with him down the beach.  His arm is around Peter's shoulder as they walk away from the place the meal was shared. The morning smoke does as it always seems to do.  It hangs heavy in the air, close to the ground.   Three times Jesus asks, "Do you love me?"  "You know that I love you," declares Peter.  And then Peter smells the smoke that is drifting heavy in the air and he remembers the last time such a smell filled the air.  It was the night when he three times denied he knew Jesus. 
Surely, it was a moment when Peter's shame and sorrow hung more heavily in the air than the morning smoke.  As quick as the wind shifts from one direction to another, the mood of Peter changed from pleasure at being pulled apart from the group to deep sorrow for his own betrayal of this One he professed to love so much.  But, as surely as Jesus had gone to the locked upper room for Thomas, He walked now on the beach for Simon Peter.  It was not  the intent of Jesus to bring shame and judgment upon the head of Peter, but to bring to him an assurance that he still belonged.  There was no judgment and condemnation in the air, only mercy and forgiveness.
The things within us that we would choose not to face about ourselves are surely known to Jesus.  As we see Jesus and Peter, we are reminded that not even these dark things of the heart are beyond the mercy of our Lord.  He sees in us what we do not want to see and what others cannot see; yet, He still looks at us with a spirit and heart of forgiveness.  He is ready to assure us that we still belong to Him.  His love is always greater than our darkest and deepest sin.   

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