I was hiking in the mountains and heard a rooster crow. Yes, I was close enough to civilization for someone to have chickens. I had been praying as I hiked, something I like to do. When the rooster began crowing my mind went back to living on an acreage and having chickens. Chickens, more particularly roosters, are very reliable. They begin crowing just before the day dawns. They announce the new day.
So what do chickens have to do with scripture and anything meaningful? The rooster got me thinking about Peter and his confident denial that he would never deny Jesus, leading to his denial and heartbreak in a few hours. Understanding the Jewish day helps. The Jewish day begins at sundown, so there is a wonderful idea that we begin our day with food and fellowship with our family, rest, then enter into the day’s work from a place of rest.
In essence when Jesus told Peter he would deny Him before the rooster crowed (Matt. 26:24, Lk. 22:34) He was saying, “Peter, you won’t even make it into the work of the day before you deny me.” Peter was speaking out of pride and self-confidence, Jesus was speaking out of knowledge and wisdom. Having learned from this experience Peter later wrote of the importance of humility in receiving the grace by which we stand.
5 Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” 6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:5-7 (NKJV)
My point is not to disparage Peter. Peter was a bold witness for the gospel, the only one of the twelve to walk on water, the first to take the gospel to the Gentiles and loved Jesus deeply. His failure is recorded in scripture to encourage us. After His failure and denial of Jesus we know from scripture that he embraced Jesus forgiveness and had a healed heart. We see the fruit of it in one of his first recorded messages where he boldly confronted the people of Israel of over their denial of Jesus.
13 The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. 14 But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses. Acts 3:13-15 (NKJV)
So a major lesson from Peter is the need to reflect on whether our confidence lies in our ability to stand or His ability to keep us from falling. One is a recipe for failure and the other is the path to empowering grace and freedom. If we humbly seek His grace we can trust in His keeping power as Jude wrote.
24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, 25 To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen. Jude 1:24-25 (NKJV)