Day 56: The Value in Enjoying Dinner Company

From the minute my girlfriend arrived at my apartment near the beginning of 2017, I knew we were in for a rough night.

 

Don’t get me wrong, she was a great girl, and we’d shared some amazing times during our 2+ years of dating. But due to her job, she now lived seven hours away, and the distance had exposed some serious flaws in our relationship. She was gracious enough to make the drive from Wyoming to Lincoln, Neb., to visit, but I think we both knew our relationship wouldn’t last the night as soon as I opened the door.

 

Still, we tried to carry on as usual. I asked her about the drive and we talked about work as we cooked dinner. We snuggled up on the couch to eat and watch This is Us, a ritual of ours. But once the final bite had been consumed, I paused the show and said, “We need to talk, don’t we?”  

Thirty minutes later, our relationship was over and she left my life forever. We’d both suspected this outcome, but we used dinner as a shield to keep us from the uncomfortable break-up conversation.

 Jesus and Peter had a similar awkward tension as they shared breakfast on the beach following Jesus’ resurrection. As Jesus has been tried and ultimately put to death, Peter had denied even knowing Him. This matter, undiscussed to this point, burbled beneath the surface of their relationship.

 

But Jesus waited. It was only “when they had finished eating” (John 21:15) that He called Peter out.

 

We’ll dig into the contents of that conversation more tomorrow, but today I want to focus on Jesus’ timing. In Jesus’ greatest moment of need, Peter had betrayed Him. That feels like something best buds would hash out ASAP.

 

But not before breakfast.

 

While we can’t be sure why Jesus put off discussing Peter’s failure, I think it’s because He just wanted to enjoy some time with His guys. Several other disciples were present, and while John 21:14 notes that this was the third time Jesus had visited His disciples after being raised from the dead, the first two had been quick pop-ins (John 20:19-20; 26-27). Before He ascended to Heaven for good, I think Jesus wanted one last chance to hang with His friends, the guys who’d been with Him through it all.

 

We can’t miss this point! All too often, God is viewed as a judgmental deity who scoffs at humans from on high. Non-believers think He puts unnecessary constraints on people.

 

I think this passage shows the opposite. By all accounts, Peter was a traitor. He deserved a tongue-lashing, or at least a solid “I told you so” from Jesus.

 

And yet, Jesus opted to cook breakfast for him and share a meal before addressing His transgressions. Jesus valued the relationship over exposing Peter’s wrongs.

 

And I think this attitude carries over to Jesus’ interactions with us today.

 

We sin constantly and betray Jesus. The reason that He had to have nails pounded into His flesh is because we’re incapable of obeying God’s very clear—and reasonable—guidelines. Jesus shouldn’t eat dinner with us. He should break up with us the second we open the door.

 

But He doesn’t. The hard talk can wait. First and foremost, Jesus treasures relationship. He thinks you’re pretty awesome, and He wants to cook you breakfast.

 

Peter eventually had to answer for his actions, but Jesus’ love and forgiveness came first. I don’t think that order ever changes. Keep that in mind the next time you screw up and are afraid to come to God.