That second rooster crow

All four Gospels tell about Peter’s denial of Jesus on the night preceding the crucifixion. You may know the story already. In short, Jesus predicts Peter’s three denials, Peter insists he will never disown Jesus, and then he promptly does it anyway.

While reading in Mark 14, one particular aspect of this version struck me. Mark 14:30 says:

 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.”

The difference between Mark’s version and the others is that he adds the detail of two rooster crows. This makes sense because, in Jesus’ time, it was common for roosters to crow two or more times a night: once around midnight and a second time before dawn [1].

Let’s continue starting in verse 66.

While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came by. When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him.

“You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,” she said.

But he denied it. “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,” he said, and went out into the entryway and the rooster crowed.

When the servant girl saw him there, she said again to those standing around, “This fellow is one of them.” Again he denied it.

After a little while, those standing near said to Peter, “Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.”

He began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.”

Immediately the rooster crowed the second time.

This second rooster crow makes me think of the quandary in which I’ve too often found myself. Like Peter, I’ve insisted that I will not depart from Jesus. In relying on my own strength, however, I’ve fallen. Even in my failure, I’ve continued stubbornly on my own. The first rooster crow didn’t stop me.

Thankfully, though, God provides a second crow (and a third or fourth if necessary). God calls you home even after multiple mistakes, even after you’ve turned your back on him again and again.

Let’s not leave Peter at the second rooster crow. After Jesus’ resurrection, he meets Peter on the beach and asks him three times “Do you love me?” Jesus redeems him with Peter’s three affirmative answers (John 21).

Let’s not leave you in your current circumstances either. Respond to the rooster crow. Tell Jesus that you love him. His open arms are waiting for you.


About Tony Schmitz

Tony Schmitz received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from Temple University in 1993, his MS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1996, and his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1999. He is a mechanical engineering professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
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