Peter, this very night, before a rooster crows twice, you yourself will deny Me three times – Mark 14:30

My wife and I bought a house three years ago that backs up to a small horse farm. Along with the horses and a donkey, about eight chickens also reside in the barn and pasture. Daily, these eight trespass in our backyard. I do not mind. They provide humor to our life as they scurry about.

Among those residents is a rooster. I never hear him before dawn, but throughout the day he makes his presence known with the boisterous, familiar cock-a-doodle-do while his lady friends are well behaved.

Upon hearing this the first time, I thought of Peter. It struck me how the reoccurring crowing of a rooster would strike the memory of his heart. We know his response on that early morning when he denied Jesus three times. He fled and wept. Certainly he remained inconsolable for days. Shame filled his once proud, boastful heart.

I have traveled to many nations in Latin America and Africa carrying the Gospel of Jesus. I always hear roosters on these trips. These nations are more agrarian than the United States. They likely are similar to the villages and towns of Peter’s day.

I allow my imagination to picture what emotions and thoughts sprang up each time Peter heard a rooster during the balance of his life. What did Peter feel? I believe that each rooster’s crow reminded him of that fateful night when he miserably failed to support his Lord.

On that first Resurrection Day, when Jesus rose from the dead, what thoughts and emotions flooded Peter’s heart? I am confident that joy surged through his being. But, I also imagine that a shadow immediately followed that joy. Peter realized that eventually his denial would have to come face to face with the Resurrected Lord.

The nakedness of that thought flooded Peter with dread. How bad would it be? Would Jesus publicly shame and humiliate him? Would Peter be fully rejected by Jesus? These and other scenarios raced through the worried mind of Peter.

Then came that fateful moment. Peter and his companions went fishing one night and caught nothing. At daybreak, Jesus stood on the shore and beckoned to them to cast their net on the right side of the boat. They did and hauled in an enormous catch.

Upon recognizing that Jesus stood at the shoreline, Peter hurled himself into the water and swam to Him. There, Jesus had breakfast cooking. They added to it some of the fish they caught and then ate.

After the breakfast, the moment Peter feared arrived. Jesus looked deeply into Peter’s heart and pierced it with a single question: “Peter, do you love Me?” (John 21:15-17). Three times this question afflicted the guilty conscience of Peter. Three times Peter feebly replied “Yes.”

Then the question ceased. Jesus foreknew and predicted Peter’s failure. Jesus knew the true heart condition of this great apostle both before the denial and after it. Jesus knew that shame flooded Peter’s guilt-ridden soul.

Peter did not need to be shamed. Shame had already lashed Peter’s emotions for several weeks. Peter now needed a salve. Unexpectedly, it came via the double-edged blade knife of the question – “Do you love Me?”

The grace of Jesus removed the embedded thorn in Peter’s conscience. In kindness, Jesus allowed Peter to reaffirm his love three times just Peter had denied Him three times.

Asking the question twice would not suffice. Doubt would have remained in the heart of Peter. Asking it four times would convey an uncertainty in Jesus. Three denials required three reaffirmations.

From that moment onward, when Peter heard a rooster, I believe that he recalled his great failure …. however, Peter equally recalled the great mercy and grace of the Risen Savior. This double memory remained with Peter until he died.

Dear Reader: Where have you failed our Lord? Have you experienced “Your Question” from Jesus? Has your conscience received cleansing? Are you confident that Jesus will not remind you of your sin by throwing it back in your face? Grace and mercy abound for those of us who risk asking for forgiveness.

If Peter’s denial did not result in the rejection of Peter, then neither will you be rejected. Go to Him. Stay until you hear the reaffirming love of Jesus in the core of your being.

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