I sat on my back porch, wrapped in my fuzzy worn robe—the one that’s twenty years old that I just can’t seem to get rid of. The birch trees waved “good morning,” and the newly planted gerbera daisies stretched their faces to the sun…just a bit higher than the day before. Then I heard him. The rooster.
ER-er-ER-er-ERRRR. I’m not sure where he lives, but it’s within earshot.
ER-er-ER-er-ERRRR. I thought of Peter. I thought of me. I thought of you.
You know the story. At the dinner table, on the night before Jesus went to the cross, he said to Peter:
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”
Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me” (Luke 22:31-34).
A few hours later, Peter did just that. Denied that he even knew Jesus. Three times. And then the rooster crowed. ER-er-ER-er ERRRR.
“And he went outside and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:62). He cried and cried and cried.
(I’ve messed up big time and cried and cried and cried before. Have you?)
The next morning, the rooster crowed. And Peter remembered his failure.
And the next, and the next, and the next.
With every squawk of the bird. A fresh reminder. First thing in the morning. Have you ever been there? I have. I have failed. And I have remembered…the rooster crowed. And even though I had asked for forgiveness, and I knew that God HAD forgiven me, the rooster crowed in my heart, and I remembered my failure anew.
What did Jesus have to say about Peter’s failure? Three strikes, you’re out? Not hardly.
After His resurrection, Jesus pulled Peter aside and asked him one question in three different ways.
“Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
A third time He said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Each time Peter answered that he loved Jesus. Each time Jesus told Peter to feed his sheep or lambs.
Jesus removed the shroud of shame hanging from Peter’s guilt weary shoulders and called him to get back to the ministry.
God’s forgiveness is always complete, total, and comprehensive. “If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action]” (1 John 1:9 AMPC).
However, the accuser continues to crow—reminding us of our past sins and failures. He tries to drown out the song of grace with the caw of shame. He crows. We remember. Perhaps even weep with Peter behind the wall.
Do you know what I’ve decided? Rooster makes a fine meal. Let’s wring the rooster’s neck and cook him up once and for all. Don’t let the enemy accuse you of what God has already forgiven you of. Don’t let the enemy fool you into thinking that the cross wasn’t enough.
I wonder what went through Peter’s mind the next time he heard the rooster crow. I think he smiled and thought of God’s amazing grace. That’s what I’m going to do tomorrow on my back porch when I hear that rooster crow.
Jesus, thank You for forgiving me totally and completely. Help me to not listen when the devil tries to make me feel guilty and ashamed. I’m standing on the truth that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…and that includes me. In Your Name, Amen.