Text: John 21:1-25, Hebrews 2:17-18, 1 Peter 5:1-4
I was the very pregnant, sick, and tired mama of a demanding toddler. My brain was so clouded by pregnancy hormones and sleep deprivation that I didn’t know what I needed or how to ask for help.
So Mandy made me pancakes.
Mandy and I weren’t friends, exactly. We mostly smiled at each other in the halls of our church, but she called me one evening with this invitation: “Come over tomorrow morning, first thing. Bring your little guy and stay in your jammies. I’m going to make you pancakes.”
Not typically the kind of gal to show up at a stranger’s house in my jammies, I’m surprised I accepted her offer. I’m usually more of a “spiff everything up and look like you have it together” kind of girl. Even so, the next morning we headed over to Mandy’s in our comfies.
Those were the best pancakes of my life. Food eaten on dishes I didn’t have to wash was a lifeline of sorts. That moment of simple compassion stuck with me long after I cleaned (okay fine, licked) my plate and headed home.
Years later I was surprised to find a similar story in John 21.
After a night of fruitless fishing to punctuate the best and worst months of their lives, Peter, James, John, and a handful of other disciples found themselves staring out at the same waves Jesus had walked upon. Everything had changed since then. Jesus had been arrested, crucified, and buried. Their hopes were dashed and they scattered, fearing for their lives. Peter’s grief was compounded by the agonizing memory that he denied the Savior not once, not twice, but three times.
Almost immediately after everything went so terribly wrong, Jesus started setting it right again. His death was trumped by His resurrection. His scared disciples were refocused by His return. Even Peter’s denials got reversed.
Jesus called His fishing friends to the shore. Peter was so anxious to be with his Savior that he jumped right out of the boat fully clothed (John 21:7). When they got to shore, they found that Jesus had made them breakfast. It was a simple gesture that demonstrated profound care and compassion. In His glorified state, Jesus tenderly met His friends’ physical needs before offering an even better portion.
During a post-breakfast stroll, Jesus gave Peter not one, not two, but three chances to declare his love. For every denial, Peter got to make a proclamation (John 21:15-17). Though sinned against, Jesus initiated reconciliation and offered tender mercies.
In this last chapter of John’s Gospel, we see the risen Christ doing more of what He’d done all along: love and serve, invite and forgive. In fact, John ends his account of Jesus’ life by stating there were so many more things that Jesus did, “if they were written one by one, I suppose not even the world itself could contain the books that would be written” (John 21:25). Volume after volume of love and service. Book after book of invitation and forgiveness.
Perhaps emulating Jesus is simpler than we think. Offer grace. Pursue reconciliation. Forgive freely. Whenever possible, love others well by serving them. Pancakes optional.
Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.