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JOHN 18:25-27

As Simon Peter stood warming himself, he was asked, “You are not one of his disciples, are you?”

He denied it, saying, “I am not.”

One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, “Didn’t I see you with him in the olive grove?” Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow.


“At that moment a rooster began to crow.”

So simple and straightforward. It just happened. There’s no further comment, no unpacking of the consequence, no reminder of the significance.

But, of course, we remember. At the Last Supper, in light of Peter’s heartfelt earnestness, indeed bravado, regarding laying down his life for the Master, Jesus had simply replied, “I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!” (John 13:38). So simple and straightforward.

And now it’s happened. So quickly, easily, with so very little thought.

Just like life. How often do we find ourselves slipping into thoughts and behaviours and attitudes that constitute a denial of our Lord? Without even thinking, we can find ourselves there. Speaking words that demean another’s value. Sharing a secret not ours to share. Bursting into angry words out of all proportion to what provoked them. Turning for a closer look at pornographic images. Covering our tracks, in a wink, with a split-second lie to conceal our guilt. Cheating on taxes. Cheating on spouses. Embracing hypocrisy. Embracing self-conceit. Squandering time. Squandering money. Turning blind eyes. Turning from sacrifice. Turning from the Lord.

“At that moment a rooster began to crow.”

The tragedy is, so often we’re not even aware of what we’ve done. If the Lord hadn’t marked it out in advance with a rooster’s crow, would Peter have noticed?

So what do we do? How to we navigate the pitfalls of denial?

It strikes me that there is a lesson to apply before the pitfall and a lesson for after. Beforehand we need to take the danger seriously. Peter didn’t. He thought he was strong, ready for any challenge, ready to stand firm. But Jesus had told him his danger. He should have walked more carefully.

The Lord tells us the danger, too. For instance in Galatians 6:1: “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.” That last line gives the warning. We’re all in the same boat. Don’t be cocky. Others will fall. You will be prone, too. Realize that life is an ongoing journey with many potential pitfalls. Be aware.

There’s a lesson for afterwards, also. Peter’s own story tells us that restoration is the Lord’s plan, even after grievous failure. We’ll see it shortly in John 21, but here’s the essence: Jesus extends forgiveness, restores fellowship and renews calling into his service.

Yes, the rooster crows. But it’s not the end. The cross opens the door to new beginning, again and again.


Lord, this story tells me that you are not surprised by our sin and failure – indeed, you know it in advance. Indeed, you have already paid the price for it on the cross. Strengthen me in my inner being to stand firm in the evil day. Prompt me to turn directly to you when failure strikes. Thank you for the forgiveness that is already won. Praise your name.


Reflect: Has the Lord forewarned you of any potential pitfalls that stand before you? If so, recommit yourself to his Lordship. Take the armour of Ephesians 6:14-17 – pray it over yourself.

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