“Before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me. ” Luke 22:34
The most abundant bird in the world today is the domestic chicken. First domesticated in India in 3200 B.C., the bird’s ancestor, the Red Jungle Fowl, is still found in forested areas of southeast Asia. The domestication of the chicken has also led to an amazing number of varieties, two of which, Delaware blue hen and Rhode Island red, are state birds. The original popularity of the chicken was more for cockfighting than it was for use as food, and at first they were bred for their fighting capabilities. Selective breeding of chickens for high quality meat and eggs came later.
The crowing of a rooster has been a familiar part of human life for thousands of years. It is a metaphor of the everyday ritual of waking up and getting ready for the day. The rooster’s “cock-a-doodle-doo” has become symbolic of all things rural, quaint or old-fashioned. To Christians, the crowing of a rooster brings to mind the story of Peter on the night before Jesus’ crucifixion. Peter boldly told Jesus, “I am ready to go with you to prison and to death” (Luke 22:33). Jesus, knowing what was to come, responded by informing Peter, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny three time that you know me” (Luke 22:34). Later that night, Peter did deny Jesus three times, and after the third denial, “Immediately a rooster crowed” (Matthew 26:74). If we are honest, most of us can relate to Peter. In a time of great stress and uncertainty he succumbed to the common human tendency to protect oneself. In Peter’s weakness, however, there was hope. Later in his life he wrote, “Rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ” (1 Peter 4:13) and “If you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name” (1 Peter 4:16). Oh, that we would learn a lesson from Peter, and not be ashamed to bear the name of Jesus.
Heavenly Father, I ask for forgiveness for the times I have denied you. I thank you for the crowing of the rooster that reminds me of my need to acknowledge you as the central focus of my life. Amen.