Do You Hear a Rooster?

April 18, 2019

On this day in the Lenten calendar last year we took a look at Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, and of whom Jesus said, “For the Son of Man must die, as the Scriptures declared long ago. But how terrible it will be for the one who betrays him. It would be far better for that man if he had never been born!" (Matthew 26:24).  This year we are going to look at Peter, the disciple known for his denial of being one of Christ’s disciples.

As you heard in our first Scripture reading, Peter insisted to Jesus that he would never forsake him or deny him, but Jesus knew better.  He foretold that Peter would deny him three times that very night before the rooster crowed.  Then in our second Scripture reading, Jesus took Peter and two other disciples into the garden of Gethsemane with him to pray, knowing it would not be long before Judas arrived to betray him, and he would be taken away, judged, and nailed to a cross.  And yet his disciples didn’t pray with him.  They fell asleep, leaving Jesus to pray alone, in such distress that he sweat drops of blood.  Finally, in our third Scripture reading, they came for Jesus just as he knew they would.  Peter followed, but at a distance.  And what happened next surely haunted him until the day he died. 

Peter’s fear overcame his faith.  His love for himself overcame his love for Jesus.  And just as Jesus told him he would, he denied being one of Jesus’ disciples.  In fact he denied even knowing him.  And then the rooster crowed… Can you just imagine how he must have felt?  How ashamed he must have been?  How much he must have wished he could just turn the clock back and do it right this time?  But he couldn’t.  Judas felt the same way after he realized what he had done by betraying Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.  But that is where the similarity ends.  Judas gave up.  He gave up on Jesus and he gave up on himself.  But Peter did not.

No, Peter remained with the disciples, humbled and ashamed, but still faithful.  The beautiful part is what Jesus did after he rose from the dead.  The third time that Jesus appeared to his disciples after his resurrection, Jesus reinstated Peter.  John 21 records their dialogue: “Jesus asked Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ Peter replied, ‘you know I love you.’ ‘Then feed my lambs,’ Jesus told him.  Jesus repeated the question: ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ Peter said, ‘you know I love you.’ ‘Then take care of my sheep,’ Jesus said.  A third time he asked him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, ‘Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.’ Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.  I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.’ Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God. Then Jesus told him, ‘Follow me.’”  Is it a coincidence that Peter denied Jesus three times and then Jesus asked Peter three times to feed his sheep?  I think not.  And remember, when Jesus foretold to Peter that he would deny him three times, he said he would pray for him that his fail would not fail, and when he turned back to Jesus after denying him, he would strengthen his brothers, or in essence, feed Christ’s sheep.  And Peter did indeed do just that.  He became a very outspoken evangelist, contributed to the books of the New Testament, and was martyred for Christ.  In fact, when he was about to be crucified he asked to be crucified upside down, not feeling worthy to be executed in the same manner as His Lord, Jesus Christ.

So what about us?  Have we ever over-confidently said we would never deny Jesus, never forsake him, and never betray him?  If we truly look into our hearts, we know that we have all done it in one way or another.  I have.  I forsook Christ for more years than I care to remember.  I’m not proud of it.  But I know God used those years to teach me much that I needed to know in order to serve him in the way I am now doing.  Maybe you have only denied him on a much smaller scale.  Maybe when you were out with new friends, you didn’t want them to know that you were a Christian.  You wanted to be accepted and didn’t want them to think you were too ‘holy’ to drink, cuss, or whatever else they might have wanted you to partake of.  You didn’t want that ‘churchy’ image. 

Or maybe there is a sin that you never told anyone about.  Maybe you cheated on your spouse.  Maybe you stole from someone.  Maybe you damaged someone’s car or property.  Maybe you hurt someone, either physically or emotionally.  Or maybe you feel as though you really let someone in your life down.  Tonight your rooster is crowing.  Jesus knows what you did.  But the good news is that he will forgive you just as he forgave Peter.  And he still loves you and wants you to follow him.  He hasn’t given up on you, and he doesn’t want you to give up on him.  Amen.


"Forgiven"  (Crowder) 

"Broken Things" (Matthew West)