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Redeeming the Rooster’s Crow

Jen Wilkin writes:

When my parents entered their latter years, they took up a new hobby: keeping chickens. At the height of their enthusiasm, they tended 21 chickens in a hen house—20 chickens, that is, and one noisy rooster. Roosters crow and crow. They crow every morning, and they crow all morning. They crow to announce another day, but they continue crowing as long as it is called “today.”

Roosters make a notable appearance in the Bible. All four Gospels record Peter’s famous three-time betrayal of Jesus punctuated by the crowing of a rooster, just as Jesus had prophesied. All three synoptic Gospels say Peter “wept bitterly” at the sound.

Our senses are powerful memory holders. Smells … tastes … sounds, too, attach themselves to memories. I imagine what kind of memory the rooster’s crow evoked for Peter. Every dawn after that first terrible morning of betrayal, the proclamation of his bitter guilt would have rung afresh in his ears. Carried in the crowing would have been the memory of his colossal failure. Whatever his relationship had been with Jesus, whatever his calling, it appears to be finished.

“I’m going out to fish,” he announces to his companions (John 21:3). They fish all night and catch nothing. But just as day is breaking, a sound ripples across the water. A voice. The announcement of a miracle: Try the other side of the boat. Recognition dawns. As the others haul in fish as fast as they can, Peter hurls himself into the sea and thrashes toward shore. There sits Jesus, serving up a fresh breakfast menu: Restoration. Forgiveness. It is finished.

I wonder, as the two conversed, could Peter hear in the surrounding countryside the sound of roosters? I can’t say. But … I suspect that every morning thereafter, Peter affixed a new memory to that clarion call. The sound of homecoming. Fear not. Glad tidings. Each day, the sound that had announced new-morning guilt now spoke a better word. All hail the rooster, that fine-feathered herald of forgiveness, that megaphone of new-morning mercies.

Possible Preaching Angle:

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). What memory of past guilt announces itself to you at every turn? Friend, hear the annunciation of your emancipation: Morning has broken, and with it, fresh mercy.

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