Mark 14:66-72 NLT
Meanwhile, Peter was in the courtyard below. One of the servant girls who worked for the high priest came by and noticed Peter warming himself at the fire. She looked at him closely and said, “You were one of those with Jesus of Nazareth.” But Peter denied it. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said, and he went out into the entryway. Just then, a rooster crowed. When the servant girl saw him standing there, she began telling the others, “This man is definitely one of them!” But Peter denied it again. A little later some of the other bystanders confronted Peter and said, “You must be one of them, because you are a Galilean.” Peter swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know this man you’re talking about!” And immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And he broke down and wept.
Mark was a scribe for the Apostle Peter so the events recorded here are through the eyes of Peter. Let's deconstruct this passage for today’s reflection.
First, let’s backtrack a little. Earlier in Mark 14:27-31, Jesus prophesied to His disciples that, on this night, they would desert Him. The reason being that they would find themselves in grave danger with no way out. Jesus used the analogy of an incapacitated shepherd whose scattered sheep were unable to care for themselves. Appalled at such a scenario, Peter declared that even if all of the disciples deserted Jesus, he would never do so. Locking eyes with Peter, Jesus informed him that before the rooster crowed twice the next morning, he would deny knowing Him three separate times. With even more passion, Peter insisted this would never be the case.
Deserter and cursed
As foretold, Peter regrettably rejected Jesus three times, the three signifying in the Hebrew total desertion. His third and last denial was so adamant in verse 71, that Peter vehemently decreed a curse of condemnation upon himself. That doesn't mean that he called himself some four letter words. When Peter cursed himself, he made a decree that everything in his life would miserably fail.
Jesus created an auditory trigger for Peter. Two times Peter insisted he was more loyal and courageous than the other disciples (Mark 14: 29 & 31). When someone considers themselves better than others, or thinks too highly of oneself, we often use the word cocky. This word comes from the onomatopoeia used for the crowing of a rooster, an animal associated with the above descriptors. Just as Peter twice announced his superior loyalty above the rest of the disciples, twice crowed the rooster and the sound of the second crowing triggered Peter’s auditory memory. Peter’s emotional response was remorseful and uncontrollable sobbing. Crowing would be a constant reminder of his cockiness and unfaithfulness.
After the resurrection, it is recorded in John 21 that a repentant Peter got back on track with God's will. He traveled to Galilee to meet Jesus as he was instructed to before Jesus' death. Peter and a few other men went fishing. The expedition was a failure due to the curse Peter pronounced on himself in Mark 14. Early in the morning when the men were ready to quit and the rooster would be crowing, Jesus appeared on shore. He directed the men to cast their nets on the right side of the boat which resulted in a miraculous catch of 153 fish. Peter then realized that Jesus had broken his self imposed curse over his life.
Do you love me?
Afterward, Jesus asked a very grateful and forgiven Peter if he loved Him. Wholeheartedly, Peter responded 'yes' and Jesus ordered him to feed His lambs. Lambs follow older sheep and eat constantly. They also tend to be playful and can get into accidents (1). Jesus was saying that young believers would follow his example and need a lot of teaching. They also would need help, prayer, time, direction, and assistance in getting rid of sinful behavior patterns. It would be his responsibility to keep young Christians on track and nurse and train them to spiritual health and maturity.
A second time Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him. Peter declared 'yes' and Jesus ordered him to shepherd His sheep. Shepherd's guide sheep to good pastures and protect them from harm. Jesus was asking Peter to feed the more experienced believers with the meat of the Word of God and steer them away from danger.
A third time Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him. Totally vulnerable, Peter responded with a resounding 'yes' and reminded Jesus that nothing in his heart was hidden from Him. Satisfied, Jesus ordered Peter to be an overseer to His sheep, to supervise and promote their spiritual welfare and individual callings in every way possible. Years later, Peter wrote to Christians who were being persecuted and martyred in Asia Minor. 1 Peter 2:25“For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” A humble and mature Peter was no longer a cocky glory hound but a shepherd and overseer privileged to be submitted to Jesus and willing to die for Him.
Jesus heals the brokenhearted
Jesus healed Peter’s broken heart by replacing old painful triggers with new healthy triggers. Every time Peter was near fish, it reminded him that Jesus removed his curse of failure with the blessing of favor. Three disclaimers became three affirmations of Peter’s destiny. Jesus replaced the shame of the rooster's crow with the forgiveness of the sheep's bleating. Sheep bleat all day and all night. For the rest of his life Peter would be constantly reminded of his divine calling and the deep love Jesus had for him.
Father, when I see how Jesus loves, I see You and that is what Your Word says, "When you see me, you see the Father." I love Your ways. Even when it is my own fault that my heart is broken, Jesus made restoration so personal and so complete. Jesus truly healed the brokenhearted then, and He heals the brokenhearted today. Thank You for restoring me when I was wrong and for healing my heart in areas where it has been broken. Help me to assist You in restoring others with broken hearts. I give you my life. You may do with me as You will. In Jesus Name, Amen.
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