The Cock Will Not Crow

(John 13:36-38)

before the cock crows
Before the cock crows you will deny me three times

Is there anything worse than being a coward? Is there anything that will make you feel as useless as being a liar and a coward? Yes there is. It is being told that you will be a coward before the event occurs, especially when the one telling you is the Lord.

That is exactly what happened to Peter in this section of scripture. Peter swore he would follow the Lord even to his death, but when push came to shove he took the cowards way out and denied he even knew Jesus three times to save his own skin.

Should we condemn Peter for his actions? No. Not even Jesus condemned him, and He was the one wronged in this matter. There is a great lesson to learn from this for all of us.

Let’s take a look at the circumstances surround this event.

Jesus Prophecy

Jesus and Peter spoke together as we see in verse 36,

Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now; but you shall follow afterward.”

Jesus was telling Peter that He was about to leave them and return to the Father. He was speaking of His death which was to come soon, in fact it would be only a matter of days. He said they could not follow Him at that time, but that in due course they would all follow Him into the kingdom of God.

Peter’s Bravado

Now Peter could not accept that He would not be able to follow Jesus anywhere. His devotion to the Lord was such that Peter made this statement in verse 37.

Peter said to him, “Lord, why cannot I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”

It was a brave statement. Peter said that he was prepared to die for Jesus and that he would follow Him to the grave.

It is an easy thing to say that you would die for someone else. Many people have said that they would die for their husband, wife, family, children, best friends and so on. But how many would actually follow though on such a statement?

The self-preservation part of human nature is such that when it comes to the crunch, almost everyone would reconsider and walk away from their words. Almost every person on earth would save their own life rather than die.

We all speak with bravado like Peter did with the Lord, but it is such a serious matter that we too would not follow through on our words.

The Lord’s Compassion

We then see the Lord speak to Peter after he had made his declaration that he would give his life for Jesus in verse 38.

Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the cock will not crow, till you have denied me three times.

Jesus understood the heart and the mind of Peter. He knew that Peter would not and could not follow through on his statement. Nor did Jesus want him to anyway, for Peter was destined to lead the disciples and preach the word after Jesus was gone.

Knowing this then, did Jesus condemn Peter for his failure? No. What Jesus did was to make known to Peter what would happen and that He understood. He knew what the events were that would follow and He did not begrudge Peter from stepping away.

After the event Peter no doubt felt weak, useless and a coward, and we will see that in the next posts. But at this time He most likely did not accept what Jesus said and he meant every word he said…until it came to the crunch.

But Jesus accepted things as they were. He did not berate Peter or look down on him or try to make him feel guilty. Jesus just stated the facts as they would occur and let it go at that. And we will see in the next post that Jesus then encouraged Peter to move forward past the issue so that he could comfort and help the rest of the Lord’s disciples.

The Lesson

So there is a great lesson in this teaching. First we must understand that it is easy for people to say all kinds of things and make all kinds of vows and promises, but it is tough to follow through on a tough promise. Many will fail and not do as they have said, and that sometimes includes ourself as well.

So the first thing we learn from this is the need to control and guard what you say. As James wrote in James 1:26,

If any one thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this man’s religion is vain.

When we do not bridle our tongue we may “shoot off at the mouth” which is essentially what Peter did. There used to be a poster or a bumper sticker that summed this up well by saying, “Make sure brain is engaged before putting mouth into gear.” We bridle our tongue by thinking first, weighing up and then speaking.

James also adds in James 1:19, “Know this, my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” This is exactly what we need to do as Christians. Listen to what is being said without anger or emotion, weigh the words and then speak.

And finally after weighing what we are to say, we must stick by our words. As James again said in James 5:12.

But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath, but let your yes be yes and your no be no, that you may not fall under condemnation.

And Jesus said a similar thing in Matthew 5:37,

Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil

So consider what you are about to say before you open your mouth. And once you have said what you are going to do, stick by your words. But don’t speak rashly as Peter did. Don’t promise something you can’t deliver or will step away from. You are permitted to say “No” and sometimes it is the right response. You cannot and do not have to please everybody. Guard your tongue and it will guard you for this is wisdom.

(Photo sourced from stock.xchng taken by Mohamad Yusran)

You might also like:

Before The Cock Crows
Teachings on the Higher Call of Christ
The Word Of God
Youre Not Listening
The Bible Billy Joel And Chocolate Cake
Peter Denies Jesus
I Will Strike The Shepherd
Peter Denying Christ
Peter Denies Knowing Jesus

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