THE ROOSTER PULLED THE TRIGGER!
"Arresting Jesus, they marched Him off and took Him into the house of the Chief Priest. Peter followed, but at a safe distance. In the middle of the courtyard some people had started a fire and were sitting around it, trying to keep warm. One of the serving maids...noticed him...and said, 'This man was with Him.'
"He denied it, 'Woman, I don't even know Him.' "A short time later someone else noticed him and said, 'You're one of them.' But Peter denied it, 'Man, I am not.'
"About an hour later someone else spoke up, really adamant: 'He's got to have been with Him! He's got "Galilean" written all over him.'
"Peter said, 'Man I don't know what you are talking about.' At that very moment, the last word hardly off his lips, a rooster crowed. Just them, the Master turned and looked at Peter. Peter remembered what the Master had said to him...He went out and cried and cried and cried." Luke 22:54-62 (The Message).
Would Peter ever forget that night? Every time a rooster crowed, for the rest of his life he would remember.
I guess that many thousands of sermons have been preached on this passage of Scripture over the centuries, mostly focusing on Peter's denial and Jesus' forgiveness. After all, it's a message of grace that everyone needs to hear.
But God's grace comes to us in many different ways. Sometimes we identify God's grace as His direct intervention in our lives; miraculous healing, forgiveness, times when we cope when we have no strength of our own.
At that moment in Peter's life, I am sure he would like to have killed that rooster because it triggered a memory that brought him to utter despair. What if Jesus had not warned him in advance that it would happen? Would the sound of the crowing rooster have had as much impact on him as it did? Probably not.
He would have felt bad about denying Jesus but, because of the warning, every time he heard the rooster, he would also have heard his own retort at Jesus' warning, 'Lord, I am ready to go with you to jail and to death.' It was not Jesus' words that haunted him as much as his own.
Peter did not know himself. He had no idea of his weak and cowardly heart until the crowing rooster pulled the trigger! He had a long journey ahead and a lot of growing to do before he could say those same words and mean them.
The rooster was only being a rooster but, for Peter, his voice was a forceful reminder of his fallible humanity and his need for God's grace because he could not do it on his own. It was his failure that caused him to be aware of his constant need of God and caused him to rest in the power of Jesus to give him strength to stand under testing.
Peter could not have penned the words in his letter to believers under pressure had he not experienced what he did on that terrible night. Only tested faith can come out pure, like gold that has gone through fire. Had Peter not fallen that night, he could have claimed victory through his own will-power, but his crash was the best thing that ever happened to him.
The sound of the crowing rooster was a trigger, not of failure and despair but of hope, a reminder of God's grace that forgives, restores and gives another chance to those who discover, through experience, how weak they really are, and who learn to rest in the strength that God supplies.
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