He is perhaps one of the greatest and most well known disciple of Jesus. Known to be zealous, strong, present at Pentecost, taking the Gospel throughout Jerusalem, the Roman Empire, and becoming the leader of the first church in Rome. A man on fire, in love with Jesus, bold, a protector of the Messiah, and eager to see the Good News of Jesus transcend upon the known world of his time. He was so moved and made alive by Jesus that tradition states when he was later executed at the hands of Roman persecutors, he refused to die like his savior and insisted that he be crucified upside down on the cross.
Peter. The rock. The very man that Jesus told he would build his church upon and that the gates of Hades would not prevail (Matt. 16:18).
But sadly, he is also more known for something else. A bit more dark. Sinister. Less heroic. Weak. Lacking in integrity. And human.
It all centers around a rooster's crow. We all know the story. Here is the text:
"Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said.
But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said.
Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.”
He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!”
After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.”
Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!”
Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.
This is the same man and only disciple to publicly declare Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of the living God (Matt. 16:16). The same man who told Jesus that he loves him, not once, not twice, but three times (John 21:15-17). And yet, Peter denied Jesus just as many times as he said that he loved him.
What a coincidental paradox.
Peter said he loves Jesus three times. Peter denies Jesus three times. And, Peter realizes this after the rooster crows... three times.
And, still Jesus forgives Peter, loves Peter, and even laid his life down for him. The incomprehensible and unfathomable grace and love of God.
Here is something worth pondering...
Peter went on to live another thirty years after Jesus. Much of this later part of his life is described in the Book of Acts, as an early leader and planter of churches in Jerusalem, and beyond the borders of Israel into Rome.
How often do you suppose he heard a rooster crow during these later years of his life?
While passing through the streets and markets of Jerusalem. While on the road to Rome. While napping on the seashore of the Mediterranean. While trekking through the hills of northern Italy. While laying in wait in an obscure jail cell in Jerusalem. Being awakened at the early dawn sunrise of a Tuscan sun.
A rooster crows. His eyes open. He turns his ear. What did he hear? What was that? A rooster crowing off in the distance.
What goes through the mind of a man who once denied the Savior of the world three times?
Or, did Peter feel something else? Something more freeing and liberating.
A reminder of grace.
How often do we hear our own roosters crowing from a former time in our life and are reminded of something we would rather forget?
The hardened heart.
The angry spirit.
The taunting of a classmate.
The feelings of revenge.
The adulterous affairs.
The ugly divorce.
The embellishment of our achievements.
The failure of significant relationships.
The destructive lifestyle.
The false hopes.
The obsession of high achievement.
The betrayal of a friend.
When you hear your own rooster crowing how do you feel? What feelings do they invoke? How do you respond?
It is my own opinion that Peter's life was a reflection of how he felt about the rooster's crow. He was truly a man in love with Jesus. A man that experienced an unconditional love like no other, forgiveness, and a joy that transformed his entire being. And, these, I believe spoke much louder to him than the mere crow of a rooster.
I don't think there is nothing wrong of being occasionally reminded of our past. Because it gives us a wonderful reminder of where we once came from... and where we are now... and only by the grace of a loving God.
So, the next time you hear your own rooster crowing. Stop. Smile. And, give thanks and glory to God for delivering you from a dark time in your life to a life of light into God's extraordinary Kingdom.