Meanwhile, Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant girl came over and said to him, "You were one of those with Jesus the Galilean."
But Peter denied it in front of everyone. "I don't know what you're talking about," he said.
Later, out by the gate, another servant girl noticed him and said to those standing around, "This man was with Jesus of Nazareth."
Again Peter denied it, this time with an oath. "I don't even know the man," he said.
A little later some of the other bystanders came over to Peter and said, "You must be one of them; we can tell by your Galilean accent."
Peter swore, "A curse on me if I'm lying — I don't know the man!" And immediately the rooster crowed.
Suddenly, Jesus' words flashed through Peter's mind: "Before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me." And he went away, weeping bitterly.
— Matthew 26:69-75 NLT
Confessing Jesus and praising him loudly and boldly is very easy among friends and fellow believers. But what will we do when our perception of Jesus' power and love are rattled and we find all of our dreams shattered like broken shards of glass lying at our feet? Will we confess him as Lord then? Will we serve him because we believe and because he is Lord even when there is no external or readily apparent reason to serve him?
Peter's rooster has crowed in many lives since Peter heard it and realized what he had done: broken his word to the Lord and broken the Lord's heart. That "rooster crow" comes in many forms, but it is that agonizing moment when we personally realize that we have betrayed or denied our Lord — not for thirty pieces of silver like Judas and not for fear of our lives like Peter, but for nothing.
The really powerful and beautiful part of this story is that unlike Judas' betrayal, Peter's story doesn't finish here. He returns to serve and glorify the Lord in mighty ways. So for those of us who have failed — whether mightily or in small ways, there is not only hope, but a proven example that Jesus welcomes back failures to make them strong and call them to his service. In the meantime, with the help of the Lord's Spirit and the confidence that Peter would not know until Jesus had risen from the dead, let's keep trying to be strong and not fail!
Almighty and holy God, I fully recognize that I make promises that I cannot or do not keep. Please forgive me when I have been rash with my promises, slow in keeping my vows to you, and weak in fulfilling my commitments. There is a bit of both Peter and Judas in me because sometimes I fail you out of fear and sometimes for personal gain — and sometimes for no real reason at all. This troubles me and shames me, but also reminds me that I need your strength and your Spirit to be strong and to live faithfully. My earnest prayer, dear Father, is that I never outlive nor betray my love for you and the grace you have given me in my Savior. In the precious name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.