The meanest and scariest creature I have ever encountered was a rooster.
If you want an animal to protect your family and property, forget about an attack dog. Get yourself an attack rooster.
As a teenager, some friends and I used to head over to the home of a local farmer friend for occasional bonfires. He had the most aggressive and intimidating rooster I have ever seen. Those of us who had visited before understood the pecking order. It was the rooster’s farm, and the rest of us were just passing through. He was going to protect his people and his territory. This rooster was not one to be trifled with, and it was best to provide him a wide berth and to leave him be.
One year, an uninitiated fellow decided he wanted to hear this rooster crow. He began following the rooster around and crowing in hopes that the rooster would respond. The rooster didn’t disappoint. He loudly informed the entire farm that a major infraction was being committed and that if it didn’t stop, there would be consequences.
My poor friend was the only one who failed to receive the message. He made one call and took one step too many and the rooster took off after him like a rocket. He chased my friend around the barnyard flapping his wings, pecking at him with his beak and launching himself into the kids like a butterball cannonball, loudly crowing the entire time.
My friend later said, “Mistakes were made. Lessons were learned.” The rooster’s call provided a wake-up and a warning against crossing the line again.
Just before Jesus was arrested, he warned Peter that in the difficult days ahead, Peter would deny Jesus three times. Peter, of course, was insistent that even if it cost him his life, he would stick with Jesus.
In John 13:37-38, we read, “Peter asked, ‘Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.’ Then Jesus answered, ‘Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.’”
Peter’s subsequent failure is famous and, as Jesus predicted, “…at that moment a rooster began to crow.” While it is true that the crowing of the rooster served as the soundtrack commemorating Peter’s great failure “at that moment,” I wonder if it didn’t also serve a preventative purpose for the future?
The crowing of a rooster serves several functions. Two are of interest for this article.
The crowing of the rooster announces his presence to those under his care. Difficult days are an unfortunate side effect of the human experience. Jesus himself promised that we will have trouble in this world. But Jesus also promised to be with us to the end of time (Matt. 28:20). He will never leave us or forsake us and is an ever-present help in times of trouble (Heb. 13:5, Psalm 46:1).
Much as the call of the rooster reminds the flock of his protective presence and calls to stay close to him, we need to hear the call of Christ reminding us that he is with us and will be faithful through whatever we may be facing.
The crowing of the rooster serves as a wake-up call. It’s so easy to lose focus as we make our way through life and find ourselves veering off of the straight and narrow. We need awakened to the salvation provided through Christ’s sacrifice. We need to fix our eyes on him in order that we might follow where he leads.
Peter’s problem stemmed from his desire to put distance between himself and Jesus. Undoubtedly, the crowing of the rooster awakened him to that failure. But I’d like to think that as Peter had breakfast with Jesus after the resurrection, he heard another rooster awakening Peter to receive the hope of a restored relationship.
The good news of the gospel is that our failures don’t determine our future. Shortly after his crucifixion and resurrection, Christ reversed Peter’s denial and restored him to his position as a disciple and a difference maker for Jesus. For each of the denials, Jesus provided an opportunity for acceptance. Rather than allowing Peter’s rejection to be the last word, Christ calls Peter to repentance and invites him once again to “Follow me.”
And Christ offers the same calling to us. He continues to announce his abiding presence and compassionate care for us. May we hear his call and wake up to the opportunities made available by his grace and to follow where he leads for our good and for his glory.
The Rev. Jeremy Myers is the lead pastor of First Baptist Church in Seymour. Read his blog at jeremysmyers.com. Send comments to [email protected]