For the scientist in the laboratory it may be a thump on the side of the beaker. For the prodigal son it was the thoughts of the food on his father’s table. For the apostle who had just denied his Master, not once but three times, it was the crowing of a rooster. A catalyst is often required to produce an action.
A traveler reports that even today in the city of Jerusalem, it is not unusual to hear the crowing of a cock. I was reminded of this as I was awakened, surprisingly, near the downtown area in a motel in an east city in Texas by a rooster crowing.
In John the thirteenth chapter, after Jesus had washed the feet of the disciples to impress upon them their own need to serve one another, He explained again that He must be gloried. He was speaking of the death He soon must die. He said, “Where I go you cannot follow me now, but you shall afterwards.”
(John 13:36) It was then that Peter said, “Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thee.” Jesus told him, “Will you really lay down your life for me?” The cock shall crow until you have denied me three times.”
Other writers of the Gospels give additional details. In one instance, Peter even arrogantly compared his faith and courage to all the others when he said that even if all the others forsook Christ, he would never do so.
And yet a short time later, as Christ is undergoing His trial, Peter caves in and before you know it he has denied knowing Christ, or even being one of His disciples, three times.
The enormity of what he has done does not occur to him until he hears the sound Christ had mentioned, the crowing of the rooster. It was a terrible sound and we can imagine with what dread he heard it, but it was a sound for which he should have given thanks, because it brought about his repentance. Matthew records that, “He went out and wept bitterly.” (Matthew 26:75)
Be thankful for any reminder God sends your way that can induce repentance, because, as Jesus said in Luke 13:3, unless we repent, we will all perish. We remember the mercy of God and His unlimited grace. But we also remember that we have that tendency the Holy Spirit calls our attention to in (Romans 3:23) when He says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We have fallen short. But this verse says we fall short. It is a continuing thing. So there will often be the need to be reminded of those things for which we should repent. We can deny the Lord in many ways. The way chosen by Peter was only one.
Be grateful for whatever brings you to repent. Here, “Peter remembered the word which Jesus said” when the cock crew. This reminds us of the great need to study His word. You can’t remember what you don’t know!