Matthew 26:58, 69-75
58 Meanwhile, Peter was following Him at a distance right to the high priest’s courtyard. He went in and was sitting with the temple police to see the outcome… 69 Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant approached him and she said, “You were with Jesus the Galilean too.” 70 But he denied it in front of everyone: “I don’t know what you’re talking about!” 71 When he had gone out to the gateway, another woman saw him and told those who were there, “This man was with Jesus the Nazarene!” 72 And again he denied it with an oath, “I don’t know the man!” 73 After a little while those standing there approached and said to Peter, “You certainly are one of them, since even your accent gives you away.” 74 Then he started to curse and to swear with an oath, “I do not know the man!” Immediately a rooster crowed, 75 and Peter remembered the words Jesus had spoken, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.
Mark 14:54, 66-72
54 Peter followed Him at a distance, right into the high priest’s courtyard. He was sitting with the temple police, warming himself by the fire… 66 While Peter was in the courtyard below, one of the high priest’s servants came. 67 When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus.” 68 But he denied it: “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about!” Then he went out to the entryway, and a rooster crowed. 69 When the servant saw him again she began to tell those standing nearby, “This man is one of them!” 70 But again he denied it. After a little while those standing there said to Peter again, “You certainly are one of them, since you’re also a Galilean!” 71 Then he started to curse and to swear with an oath, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about!” 72 Immediately a rooster crowed a second time, and Peter remembered when Jesus had spoken the word to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” When he thought about it, he began to weep.
Meanwhile Peter was following at a distance. 55 They lit a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, and Peter sat among them. 56 When a servant saw him sitting in the firelight, and looked closely at him, she said, “This man was with Him too.” 57 But he denied it: “Woman, I don’t know Him!” 58 After a little while, someone else saw him and said, “You’re one of them too!” “Man, I am not!” Peter said. 59 About an hour later, another kept insisting, “This man was certainly with Him, since he’s also a Galilean.” 60 But Peter said, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Immediately, while he was still speaking, a rooster crowed. 61 Then the Lord turned and looked at Peter. So Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times.” 62 And he went outside and wept bitterly.
15 Meanwhile, Simon Peter was following Jesus, as was another disciple. That disciple was an acquaintance of the high priest; so he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard. 16 But Peter remained standing outside by the door. So the other disciple, the one known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the girl who was the doorkeeper and brought Peter in. 17 Then the slave girl who was the doorkeeper said to Peter, “You aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you?” “I am not!” he said. 18 Now the slaves and the temple police had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold. They were standing there warming themselves, and Peter was standing with them, warming himself… 25 Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They said to him, “You aren’t one of His disciples too, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not!” 26 One of the high priest’s slaves, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, said, “Didn’t I see you with Him in the garden?” 27 Peter then denied it again. Immediately a rooster crowed.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
Then the Lord turned and looked at Peter. So Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.
When I was a teenager, I became a black belt in the art of self-defense—and I’m not talking about karate. I never attended any classes, or kicked any boards in half, or did anything that required me to wear a particular uniform.
My art of self-defense was much more destructive than those things. It was sarcasm.
Sometime around junior high, I discovered I had a way with words. It only took a few rough situations with kids at school or church for me to realize I could use those words to get me out of tough spots.
When I was backed against a wall, with nowhere else to turn in a conversation or a social interaction, I could whip out some acerbic wit, throw a few verbal punches, and make my social escape successfully.
Always one second too late, I’d experience those familiar feelings of loss and embarrassment. I was left with a gut-wrenching wish to take back the words that just came out of my mouth. In those moments, I knew the shame of having denied Christ’s presence and life within me.
As Peter stood in the courtyard, warming himself by the fire after Jesus had been captured, his heart must have been a muddle of prayers and fears (Matthew 26:58, John 18:18). Guards and soldiers had taken the Man he’d begun to trust as Messiah. I can’t imagine the fear he must have felt as he waited close by to hear what would happen to the One he’d grown to love most.
Peter was confronted three times by people who recognized him as one of Jesus’ followers. In a series of moments when he was trying to remain anonymous, he was singled out and asked to give an answer that could’ve determined his life or death.
The people in the courtyard asked if he was a follower of Jesus. He said no. They asked him again, and he said he didn’t even know who Jesus was. They pressured him insistently once more, stating that he even spoke like Jesus, and Peter cried out that he didn’t know Him (Mark 14:71).
And the rooster crowed.
Luke 22:61 says the Lord turned to look at Peter in that moment. I can only imagine the agony he felt. Peter suddenly remembered what Jesus had told him—and he went away and wept bitterly (verse 62).
We’ve all known those moments when the rooster has crowed in our own lives. Sarcastic words were spoken. A sinful act was done. Consequences were set in motion. And our hearts broke a moment too late.
As Christ-followers, there’s only one thing we can do in those moments when the rooster crows—when we realize our sin: we must be broken as Peter was (Matthew 26:75). Christ is faithful and loving, and He’s given us sufficient grace and forgiveness for any (and every) sin we commit, but He asks for our repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
After years of struggling with a sarcastic tongue, I’ve seen the fruit of repentance in my own life. God has kept my heart tender toward Him in this area, ever since He first broke me of my sin more than 15 years ago.
Although there are moments when I still hear the rooster crow in my heart, it’s to His glory that godly sorrow has kept me on a path of repentance and renewal in this area.
Peter denied Christ three times to the crowd in the courtyard, and I know I’ve denied Christ many more times than that in my own life. But when Jesus looked at Peter, he didn’t only see Peter’s sin, He saw Peter too. And He prompted Peter, by that one glance, to remember who God had called him to be.
He prompts our hearts to remember this as well. He helps us to understand that He alone is faithful to forgive us every single time—even in those moments when the rooster crows.
- Have you ever said or done something and regretted it one second too late? Think about a particular instance when this happened. How did you react? What did you feel?
- When we experience shame or guilt because of something we’ve done wrong, God asks us to repent. What does the word “repentance” mean to you?
- Scripture says God is faithful to forgive us when we confess our sins. Looking back on your life, have you experienced His faithfulness after you confessed a sin to Him and repented? How has God specifically ministered to you in those times?