Here’s the clue. “Six months from now on July the 1st at 5pm at the Empire State Building.”
From a famous a famous movie? He arrives there and she doesn’t; he leaves broken hearted. Years later they meet again and he realizes that the reason she did not show up at the rendezvous is because she was paralyzed in a car accident on the way there. The Empire State Building is in the window as the finally embrace.
An Affair to Remember. Year? 1957. Actors? Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant.
Best quote: “Oh, it was nobody’s fault but my own. I was looking up. It was the nearest thing to heaven. You were there.”
Second question- Why does this text from John remind me of An Affair to Remember?
Maybe because of the disciples are as disappointed and disillusioned as Cary Grant? They were waiting for a new life to begin and Jesus went to the cross instead? And then everyone cries when they find out that he is actually alive?
Maybe because Peter and the disciples are spiritually paralyzed and Jesus comes for breakfast.
Maybe there is no logical connection– but the feelings seem the same. The element of loss then surprise—of Christ tracking them down where they live, showing up because he loves them, loving them even though they have betrayed him and shows them love by cooking them breakfast. That seems to be closer to the feeling. The disciples didn’t show up for Christ but he shows up for them. Like Deborah Kerr’s character, they feel like a disappointment because of their brokenness. But, disillusionment and disappointment are never the end of the story.
Last week, we were in John with doubting Thomas and Jesus offering peace. The ending of that text sounded like it would be the end of the book of John- it said, “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” Our scripture today is like seeing the outtakes after the movie appears to have ended. In this text from John today, the disciples are sitting around wondering what has happened to them and what to do when Simon Peter says, ‘I’m going fishing,” and the rest join him. They go back to their boats, but they don’t catch any fish. Jesus calls to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” Then he tells them to drop their nets and they catch 153 fish—once again attesting to the fact that without Jesus, they can do nothing, but with Him they experience surprising abundance. They are spiritual children, just as Jesus called them, still not knowing who Jesus Christ is.
I love this text because Jesus cooks breakfast- on a grill. You just have to love a Messiah who grills out. Jesus is tending a charcoal fire on the beach—not a driftwood fire as you would expect. The only other time we hear about a charcoal fire in the book of John is when Peter is standing around the fire before the crucifixion and betrays Christ three times. Three times he is warmed by the fire but coldly denies that he knows Christ. His identity as belonging to Christ is burned up in the charcoal fire outside Caiaphas’ court. The cock crows and he realizes what he has done, weeping with repentance. Because of his shame, he does not go to the cross with Christ, but Christ does not leave Peter there.
In this post resurrection encounter, Peter jumps from the boat and is the first one to the fire. Smelling this charcoal, so much like the High Priest’s fire, Peter must feel the wash of shame of his denials and his deep regret. Jesus feeds the disciples a breakfast of fish and bread. He is concerned for their common, everyday physical needs, not just their spiritual needs. And then he asks Peter, “Do you love me?” Peter answers, “Yes, Lord.” Three times this happens, for the three times that Peter denied Christ. It unravels the shame between them and is the forgiveness Peter needs to be able to do as Christ asks, to feed His sheep. Christ feeds Peter so he can feed others.
Dr. Terry Ellis wrote of this encounter, “Sometimes you shy away from God because you are ashamed. You’re convinced God is disappointed in you, and so you have pulled in on yourself. You may feel that way this week. If so, come to the charcoal fire. Remember that God was not surprised by a single stumble on your part. In fact, He meets each failure with a grace that is so puzzling, so limitless, so real that all of us limping saints can find courage in that grace … Peter did, and so can you.”
Peter, who has hidden out because he was ashamed of not showing up at the cross for Christ, does remind me of An Affair to Remember after all. But it is because of the forgiveness of being loved beyond and because of our human imperfections and mistakes by Christ. This is the Christ who calls us Children and feeds us with the spiritual food of His most precious Body and blood, calling us to remember Him as he remembers us.
Your experience with Jesus Christ is definitely an affair to remember because Jesus continues to seek you out because whatever you have done, Jesus forgives you. Come to the fire of grace.