Peter again denied it, and at once a rooster crowed.
-- John 18:27
If you go to Jerusalem today, you can visit a spot that has been excavated to reveal some old stones that form steps to a courtyard. It is believed this is the spot where the high priest presided over the first trial of Christ, the religious trial.
Next to the steps now stands a church, St. Peter's Church. On top of the church is a small but beautiful golden dome. Upon the dome rests a cross. Upon the cross rests, a rooster. It is a symbol of failure at a high level, when Simon, nicknamed "Peter," or "The Rock" by Jesus, crumbled at the first trial of Christ.
Simon Peter was asked by "the servant girl," the doorkeeper, if he was a disciple of Jesus, a Christian. Peter said, "I am not." This must have been hard for the usually bold Simon Peter. But once you sin in a certain area of your life, repeating the sin is not quite as difficult.
Simon committed the second sin to stay comfortable in the courtyard. It was probably before 6 a.m. in the chilly April air of Jerusalem. Peter snuggled up to a charcoal fire. Someone asked Simon the same question as before, asked if he was a disciple, a Jesus follower, a Christian. Peter bore false witness the second time and said, "I am not."
One of the men in the fire circle was a kinsman of the man whose ear Peter had cut off during the arrest of Christ. Acknowledging his identity could have cost Peter dearly, so for the third time he denied he even knew the Lord, this time vehemently. Then, the rooster crowed.
That night in Jerusalem, Simon Peter found himself caught between two worlds. He did know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and his highest commitment was to the kingdom of God. But, when people and places of the present world confronted him, Peter was willing to deny being a Christian, in order to enjoy some of the places, perks and protections of this present world.
Simon Peter denied the Lord to get into a worldly place. "This is my Father's world," the hymn says, rightly. But, there are some places the Father says not to go.
Simon Peter denied the Lord to enjoy worldly comforts. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with having a nice house or car or making good money from a good job. It is wrong, however, if you have to deny the Lord and turn your back on the church to get them.
Simon Peter denied the Lord to escape worldly persecution. This is a tough one, but Simon Peter eventually got it right. In 30 years more he would die for his faith, as did so many of the Apostles and early Christians. Christians die every day, still.
The rooster still crows for Christians who go places the Lord does not want us to go, engage in pleasures forbidden by the word of God, or cower down to peer pressure when an opportunity arises to bear witness for the gospel. You know where those places are, you know what those pleasures are, and you know exactly what God wants you to do.
Here are the lessons we need to learn from Peter's pitiful performance. We need to live in the world, but not be of the world, until we get to a better world. If we find ourselves in places we ought not to be, then chances are we are going to do what we are not supposed to do.
The world we live in is full of joy, God-given joy, to be enjoyed in God-given ways and means. Find your greatest satisfaction in knowing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Savor the word of God and learn to love to obey it. Take the love, romance, vocation, recreation, food, drink, and the many other things God gives and thank Him for it. If you can't thank Him for it, don't do it.
Finally, the world we are going to is a better place. Delay sinful gratification and wait upon the glory of the Lord. Don't be a coward. Be willing to even die for the Lord if necessary. Live in the world, but don't be of the world, for we are going to a better world. And, don't let the rooster crow over you.
Chuck DeVane is the pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church in Hot Springs. Call him at 501-525-8339 or email [email protected]