John 21:15-19 (NIV)
If you close your eyes and imagine the smell of a campfire, what do you see? I don’t actually see a campfire. I see my daddy’s kitchen. Not a campfire smell but a smell of the most amazing foods. Daddy was a chef. I wrote about my daddy’s kitchen in my book, Anyone Seen My Rose-colored Glasses?
When I think of the most memorable smells in my life it’s always my daddy’s kitchen that I see. The wonderful aromas that floated in, around, and out of it. It’s strange how you can picture something in your mind when a familiar aroma hits your nose. Me standing in front of his oven with butter in one hand and a knife in the other anxiously waiting for the yeast rolls to finish baking.
Research says if you use one of your senses there’s a path your brain travels that triggers your memory. If there’s a scent in the air it floats through the nose and into the brain’s olfactory bulbs. (Definition from the National Cancer Institute Dictionary of Cancer Terms: A rounded mass of tissue that contains several types of nerve cells that are involved in the sense of smell. There are two olfactory bulbs on the bottom side of the brain, one above each nasal cavity. The olfactory bulbs receive information about smells from the nose and send it to the brain by way of the olfactory tracts.) This is like a huge trigger to your brain that then gives out an image associated with the smell. Did you know that if you lose your sense of smell, it is a clue to the onset of Alzheimer’s? That’s pretty scary.
Why am I talking about smells? This passage of scripture deals with Jesus reinstating Peter. It all happens after the resurrection. Looking at the beginning of John 21 we see that Jesus appeared again to His disciples by the Sea of Galilee. Peter told everyone he was going fishing. They decided to go along with him. But they caught nothing. When morning came Jesus stood on the shore but the disciples didn’t recognize Him. He asked them if they’d caught anything. They told Him no. He told them to try again and to cast their net on the right side of the boat. They did and the catch was unbelievable. There were so many fish they couldn’t haul the net up into the boat.
Suddenly one of the disciples realized it was Jesus and told Peter. Then Peter jumped in the water and the other disciples followed him pulling the net full of fish behind them. Here’s where the smells come into play. When they all came ashore, they saw a fire of burning coals and there were fish on it with some bread. Jesus had built the fire and had begun making breakfast for them.
Jesus told them to bring some of the fish they’d caught and come have breakfast. They didn’t ask Him who He was because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus took the bread and the fish and gave them to His disciples. This was the third time Jesus appeared to His disciples after His resurrection.
This leads us to the reinstatement of Peter. It begins with Jesus asking Peter if he loves Him. He asked three times. Peter answered “Yes” all three times to the point of his feelings being hurt.
#1. Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” (Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”)
#2. “Simon son of John, do you love me?” (Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”)
#3. “Simon son of John, do you love me?” (Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.)
So here we are at the point where Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him. Why? Because if we remember when they came and arrested Jesus, Peter denied Him three times, and now as they’ve eaten breakfast and all the aromas of the fish and the bread are circling them, Peter remembers that time. Sometimes we must deal with the things in our past before we can go on with our lives. We must confess or we can’t move forward. But we don’t want to revisit that sin.
God sees what we can’t. If we listen to Him, we can see better but if we duck, we’ll never make it. There are, however, things that should stay in the past. Jesus gave Peter a chance to redeem his past and then sent him forward to do what he wanted him to do—respond and do. He put Peter back in the past to remember his sin.
The smells that bring back memories are sometimes the things we need to deal with so that we can move forward. Jesus took Peter to the most agonizing point of his life. The three times he denied his Lord. That’s why He asked Peter three times if he loved Him. We can be saved from our past and that will save us for our future.
Return – Redeem – Respond
Go back to the campfire. Smell the aromas. Where does it take you?
And that’s what I learned in Church……see ya next time!