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The Rooster of Remembrance and Repentance

September 27, 2007

The bystanders recognized his accent, Matthew tells us, and that’s how they knew he was a Galilean.  The evidence was piling up, their questions could not be simply shrugged off, and so he has to tell a boldfaced lie to save himself.   “I do not know this man of whom you speak”  No way he can excuse himself now.  He’s denied Jesus.  And to make it worse, he did so with a solemn oath.  Just last week we looked at James 5.12 about swearing.  This is the kind of swearing we above all must not do.   He cursed himself.   Something like “may God deal with me be it ever so severely if I’m lying when I tell you that I don’t know this man” 

And immediately the rooster crowed a second time, and then Peter remembered.  Why then?  Why not just a little bit earlier?   Let us learn from this not to assume that we can always repent whenever we want.  Let us remember that sinning renders us spiritually insensitive, spiritually dull of hearing, and that repentance is not merely a work of man but also a gift of God’s grace. 

Luke brings this point out more clearly in his gospel, for he records another means of grace besides the rooster’s crow.  Luke 22:60-62  But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed.  61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.”  62 And he went out and wept bitterly.

Listen to Spurgeon on this look of Jesus,

“When Peter first denied his Master a cock crew. Peter must have heard that crowing, or he would not have communicated the fact to the evangelists who recorded it. But though he heard it, he was an example of those who have ears, but hear not. One would have thought that the warning would have touched his conscience; but it did not; and when the cock crowed a second time, after he had committed three denials, it might not have awakened him from his dreadful sleep if a higher instrumentality had not been used, namely, a look from the Lord Jesus. See, then, how our Lord can do with a look what we cannot do with a sermon, what the most powerful writer cannot do with hundreds of pages, and what affliction cannot do with even its heaviest stroke. When I come to preach to you, it almost makes me smile to think that God should save a soul through me. I may find a fit image of myself in the poor rooster.  Mine is poor crowing. But as the Master’s look went with the cock’s crowing, so, I trust, it will go with my feeble preaching. The next time you also go out to try and win a soul for Jesus, say to yourself, “I cannot do it: I cannot melt a hard, rebellious heart; but yet the Lord may use me; and if there come a happy conjunction of my feeble words with my Lord’s potent look, then the heart will dissolve in streams of repentance.” Crow away, poor bird: if Jesus looks whilst thou art crowing, thou wilt not crow in vain, but Peter’s heart will break. The two things are joined together, and let no man put them asunder-the commonplace instrumentality and the divine Worker. Christ has all the glory, and all the more glory because he works by humble means. I trust that there will be this morning a conjunction of the weakness of the preacher with the strength of the Holy Spirit; so that stony hearts may be broken and God glorified.”

Why does the Lord let this happen?  Why does he let us go our own way?  If he gives us the grace to keep coming back in repentance, why doesn’t he give us the grace to never depart from him again?  Because he wants to cure us of the folly of self-reliance.  The arrogance of relying on willpower and neglecting prayer for strength to withstand temptation. 

Any Peters here today?  Would someone like to say, “I’m not like that!  I’m not half-hearted like most Christians.  I find most Christians intolerably shallow, but I’m deep and authentic in my faith.  Even though they all fall away, I will not.”  Let this passage warn you how the Lord responds to such boasting. He’ll leave you to your own devices for a time to find out just how shallow and weak you really are.  Don’t exalt yourself over your brothers.  Humble yourself and watch and pray for grace and strength that you may not enter into temptation.  The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. 

3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 27, 2007 10:47 pm

    Thanks, Mike.

    I’ve been working through some ideas on sanctification lately, and have wrote a bit on my own blog. This helped a bit, I think.

    I quoted you. Hope you don’t mind!

    Now where’s that beer….

  2. Egana permalink
    October 3, 2007 6:47 pm

    I often find myself intolerably shallow. Today I am downright sick of myself. But the Lord lifts up the lowly, and strengthens the weak, right?

  3. Shari permalink
    November 17, 2008 4:57 pm

    Wow thanks MIKE thats a great message on Peter~!

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