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God’s Word for You

Luke 22:58-62 the rooster crowed

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Wednesday, April 17, 2019

58 A little later someone saw him and said, “You are also one of them.” But Peter said, “Mister, I am not.” 59 About an hour went by and someone else insisted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.”  60 But Peter said, “Mister, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed.

Matthew and Mark say that Peter left the courtyard fire after the first denial and went to the porch of the house (Matthew πυλῶνα, gate; Mark προαύλιον, forecourt). Challenged by first one person and then another, Peter denied Jesus to everyone. Luke does not mention Peter’s curses or his oaths, but he does tell us that while Peter was in the act of denying Jesus, a rooster crowed. Yet the depth of Peter’s sin is not yet plumbed.

61 The Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter was reminded of the word of the Lord, that he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.”  62 And he went out and wept bitterly.

How did Jesus happen to be there, to be able to “turn” (στραϕεὶς) and look at Peter? The best answer to this is that Jesus was being moved, either from one part of the house to another, or from the palace to a cell. Jesus by now was bruised and bloodied. His interview with the high priest had been far from spiritual. John reports that one of Caiaphas’ officials had struck Jesus for one of his answers (John 18:22) and Mark reports this: “Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, ‘Prophesy!’ And the guards took him and beat him” (Mark 14:65).

It was then, probably while the guards were transporting him to beat him, that he twisted around (στραϕεὶς) for a moment as the rooster crowed. He caught Peter’s eye, he caught Peter’s heartstrings, and Peter’s heart broke. Then Peter “was reminded” (ὑπεμνήσθη is passive) of what Jesus had said before. The bruised, bloodied face of the Savior called up the Lord’s words to his friend: “You will deny me.” Peter was brought to tears by his own lies, by his denial. He had broken the First and Second Commandments after he had promised that he would stay with Jesus to the very end. His skin had become his greatest treasure, the thing he wanted to preserve the most. And now he was crushed by his own act.

Peter was able to get away at this time, probably because Jesus was being moved. The locked palace area was unlocked to permit the transport, and Peter slipped out. No longer following Jesus, he found a quiet place and began to sob and to cry loudly. The bitterness (pikros, πικρῶς) was his grief over his sin. It was the beginning of repentance, when the sinner is stopped from his sin and is terrified by its consequence. The word “bitterly” is used only in this context in the New Testament, but Isaiah said, “Let me weep bitterly (πικρῶς)” over the destruction of Jerusalem (Isaiah 22:4). There is also a bitter cry of sinners in Isaiah 33:7, and Daniel calls the decree of Nebuchadnezzar to kill all the wise men “bitter” (πικρῶς, NIV “harsh”). This is the bitterness and the agony of knowing we have broken our friendship with Christ. This is the little hell we face in this lifetime, a brush (as it were) with eternal death. We who have sinned and realized its impact on our souls have just about caught the scent of the everlasting brimstone, we have almost seen the glimpse of the blackness of what it would be to be forever without God’s love. This is the scream in the dark.

A good friend of mine was visiting a loved one in a hospital when he happened to talk with a woman from a room down the hall. She rejected everyone who tried to talk with her about Jesus; she scorned them and scoffed at them, even ridiculing them. She rejected my friend’s offer to share the gospel of forgiveness and peace, too. Just a day or two later, everyone heard her blood-curdling scream ring out all over that floor of the hospital. She was dead. Was that scream the last thing she did in this life or the very first thing she did in the next? Hers was a glimpse into what is there awaiting everyone who denies Christ.

But Peter, O Peter! Peter’s repentance turned all the way back to Jesus. Peter sprinted to the tomb when the news came of Jesus’ resurrection. Peter’s sorrow was turned to joy and a renewed passion for his Savior. Peter stands as the reminder to every Christian that our sins, no matter how foul, can be and are forgiven in Jesus. We don’t look at Peter with shock at how bad he was. We look at Peter with shame at how bad we are, too. We stand with Peter in Christ’s love and forgiveness.

Remember Peter the Repentant, and follow him into the arms of Jesus, for everlasting forgiveness, joy, love, and peace.

    He came from his blest throne
    Salvation to bestow
    But such disdain! So few
    the longed-for Christ would know!
    But oh, my friend, my friend indeed,
    Who at my need his life did spend.

    (My Song is Love Unknown, Samuel Crossman, vs. 2)

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith

About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.


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