It doesn’t take much imagination to assume that Peter could ever forget the rooster.
I can envisage Peter till his dying day must have cringed every time he hears a rooster crows.
Matthew 26:75 tells us, “And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.”
The story of Peter’s triple denial of his Lord and Master is recorded in all the four Gospels.
For Peter it is an irrepressible account in his life.
Even the Church of St Peter in Gallicantu depicts a golden rooster atop a black cross on its roof. And the name, Gallicantu, comes from two Latin words meaning, “rooster” (gallus) “crows” (cantu).
Peter will always remember the rooster.
The rooster reminds him of the WARNING from the Lord.
Amongst the disciples of Jesus, there was no one more cocksure of his commitment than Peter.
Peter declared his loyalty to Jesus saying, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will” (Matthew 26:33).
And the Lord issued the warning: “Truly I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times” (Matthew 26:34)
Peter confidently replied, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you” (Matthew 26:35).
It was at the exact moment not too early or too late the rooster crows. And Peter remembered the Lord’s warning.
And now he penned a warning in his letter for us not to take confidence in our flesh.
“You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked” (II Peter 3:17)
The rooster still crows.
But many keep “killing” the rooster. They silence the warning until they couldn’t hear the rooster crow anymore. They muffle the loud inner voice of warning. They deaden their conscience. They killed the rooster.
God made rooster for a reason. It serves as a warning to wake us from our slumber, our self-assuredness and self-complacency.
The Rooster also reminds Peter of his FALL.
When Jesus was arrested and taken away, Peter followed Jesus and his captors at a distance (Luke 22:54). He was close enough to see Jesus and yet not close enough to be seen with Him.
Suddenly he became a distant follower. And instantly he became fearful of being seen, recognized and associated with Jesus.
Could this be the start of his fall?
Before he was strong as he stood next to Jesus and acted courageously cutting off the ear of the servant of the high priest.
But now he follows Jesus at a distance. And he edged closer to the fall. For when questioned by a young servant girl (not a burly fearsome soldier), he denied vehemently with swearing and cursing, “I do not know the Man!” (Matthew 26:69-72).
With each denial the ground of his commitment and conviction begins to crack and crumble. It soon gives way. And he falls.
At that precise moment the rooster crowed. Jesus turned. Their eyes met. Peter can never forget that look. Even though the look lasted only for a second yet the shame, the guilt and the failure lasted forever. “So he went out and wept bitterly” (Matthew 26:75).
But thank God the story of Peter’s failure did not end there. It is a story of grace. It is a story of second chance.
Immediately after Jesus’ resurrection, the angel of the Lord dispatched this message:
“But go, tell His disciples – and Peter – that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you” (Mark 16:7).
Even though Peter has denied Him three times, the risen Lord wasted no time in making a beeline to meet especially Peter to restore him and help him rise up from his utter sense of failure.
The rooster may crow, warn and remind Peter of his terrible fall yet it does not spell the end of the Lord’s dealing in his life. It speaks to him of the GRACE of the Lord.
No one knows the gospel of the second chance better than Peter. No one knows the feeling of being set free from guilt and failure better than Peter. No one knows the joy of restoration better than Peter.
This Lunar New Year as we celebrate the Year of the Rooster, let’s remembers what the rooster says to Peter and to us all.
In fact this year is precisely the year of the fire rooster. And there were two fires in Peter’s life. The first was the fire in the courtyard where he denied Jesus three times. The second was the fire where the resurrected Jesus affirmed and commissioned him three times.
The rooster speaks to Peter of the WARNING, the FALL and the GRACE.
May it remind us of the same.
For only then could we have a truly, happy and joyous Lunar New Year this year and always.