We all have people in the Bible with whom we can identify and relate. God made sure of this. He’s a people person.
Perhaps of all the possible biblical personas, Peter is the most relatable to anyone from the newly converted discipline to the seasoned follower of Christ. We’ve all been a Peter at some point in our journeys of faith. And we’ve all experienced the searing pain from the prod of conviction when the rooster crows and calls us out while in our sin.
Here is part of Peter’s story. Our story.
“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.”
Matthew 26:69-75 NIV
Imagine the scene differently. Envision the courtyard as your home, or more intimately, your inner sanctuary. Think of the gateway as your access to the outside world, your community, your work, or your social interactions. What if the servant girls in this biblical account are symbolic of curious, common, worldly, and perhaps non-believing people. And perhaps “those standing there” symbolize society and common culture. Furthermore, imagine the rooster as the Holy Spirit. And you and I are Peter.
Now read the passage above again with different eyes and ears.
Similar to the first servant girl, the curious ones in our homes and families, namely our children, ask us this question every day. Were you with Jesus? Maybe not always audibly, but their eyes and ears are asking as our words and actions are answering. Were you with Jesus today?
The first time Peter responds, He dismisses the idea of knowing Jesus by saying, “I don’t know what you’re talking about”. Peter doesn’t even acknowledge Jesus as an acquaintance. Have we ever responded similarly with our thoughts and words and lives?
Before our loved ones can embrace the Person of Jesus, they must wrap their minds around the idea of Him. We need to talk about Jesus. We need to demonstrate Jesus. And most importantly, we need to reveal evidence of being with Jesus.
Lord, help us not dismiss the idea of knowing You so others can become acquainted with You.
Once again, another servant girl, or lost soul in our story, asks in so many words, “Have you spent time with Jesus?” This is the all-important question our families, communities, co-workers, and friends are asking us. Our lives are the evidence of where we spend our time.
The second time, Peter denies knowing Jesus. Ouch. Yet don’t we respond the same sometimes? How many times have we read a devotion, spent time in prayer, and worshiped God in the car on the way to work only to walk into the workplace with an overwhelmed mind and an underwhelmed spirit? Is our desire to know Jesus greater than our temptation to deny Him when life gets tough? Does your life scream “I don’t know the man!”, or does it demonstrate evidence of time spent with Him? Do you exercise His power and experience His peace?
It isn’t until Acts where we find Peter redeemed and recommitted. “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13)
Lord, make our desire to know You greater than our temptation to deny You at all times, in all circumstances.
The third question comes from a group of people, or society and the common culture for us. They ask in so many words, “Aren’t you one of His disciples?” In other words, with whom do you identify yourself? Peter’s accent, or identifying mark, had given him away.
The third time, Peter vehemently rejects his identity in Christ. Dismissal, denial, now rejection. How could the most exuberant disciple now reject his Teacher? One four letter word. Fear.
Fear can make us forget everything we know to be true. Peter’s accent had given him away, but it no more sealed his identity in Christ than wearing a cross necklace does for you or me. While fear can be a real and present danger, faith in Jesus can seal your reality and identity in the safety of His presence.
Lord, may the crosses we wear and bear keep us adorned in your truth and identified with your death and resurrection.
Yet just as Peter rejected his identity, something prophetic happened. The rooster crowed. Just as Jesus had predicted. And Peter wept, bitterly.
Peter’s rooster, while painful to hear, was a saving grace manifest in bitter tears of repentance. Peter’s rooster was the fulfillment of a prophecy that pointed toward an even greater prophecy in the giving of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Peter’s rooster was prophetic, yet our rooster is the gift of the Holy Spirit, who serves as the voice of God to both encourage and convict. Friends, we have a Holy Rooster!
So as we walk together through Holy Week in the footsteps of Christ and His disciples , may we remember Peter, identify with Christ, listen for the Holy Rooster, and choose faith over fear. The curious, and worldly, and lost, and cultured are watching. But so is that Rooster!