A Rooster Reminds Us To Be Humble
Mark's account of Jesus instituting the Lord's Supper is given in these simple words, "And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body. And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God. And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.” (Mark 14:22-26) This glorious event was bracketed in Mark's gospel by two sad events of betrayal. The first word picture of betrayal was that of Judas betraying Jesus. (Mark 14:18-21) The second picture of disowning and betrayal was that of Peter denying our Lord. (Mark 14:27-30)
Jesus said that all the disciples would deny him. "Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered." (Mark 14:27) He specially said that Peter would deny Him. "Jesus saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice." (Mark 14:30) Please notice how specific Jesus was concerning the betrayal. He said that it would take place that night. He said Peter would deny Him three times. He said these three denials would take place before the rooster crowed twice. Peter was so wrong, but he promised Jesus, "Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!"
The denial of Jesus by Judas and Peter causes us to consider the foreknowledge of God. Was the person correct who wrote, "Jesus' detailed foreknowledge also helps to underscore the degree to which everything that is going on has been predetermined by God, thus, in a sense, Peter's betrayal is willed by God rather than by Peter himself. If God has determined that it is necessary that Jesus be denied by his disciples, how can it be said that they have any free will in the matter, and how can anyone condemn or even criticize them for what they do?"
This statement is based on the idea that God foreknew from eternity everything that would ever be. It is believed that God knows already all of those that will ever be saved. It would then follow that this foreknowledge would mean that these things are unchangeable. Let us remember that we can only understand God's knowledge to the extent that He has revealed it unto us. We know that God is capable of knowing the future because He did foretell many events that later came to pass. God can know whatever is in harmony with His own attributes and purpose. However, God does not take away man's personal freedom. God knows some things as absolutely certain. He knows some things as only contingent.
Zechariah 13:7 forms a foundation for the events that took place with the denials of Jesus, "Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones." It was against this background that Peter's pride is set forth. He was so sure of himself that he said, "Even if I have to die with you, I will never say that I don't know you!" At first Peter is bold and courageous. In the Garden of Gethsemane he "drew a sword, and smote a servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear." (Mark 14:47) He would soon learn a great lesson on humility as the rooster crowed.
Let us observe Luke's account of when a "Rooster reminds us to be humble."
Following Jesus from a distance: In Luke 22:54 "Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest's house. And Peter followed afar off." Jesus had been arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane where He had been betrayed by Judas. Now the High Priest wanted to question Jesus so He is brought into his palace. Jesus was taken first to Annas and then to Caiaphas. (John 18:12-13) Luke's account does not focus on the mock trials inside the palace, but rather on what is going on outside, especially with Peter. Peter followed the Lord from afar or at a distance. The picture is that Peter continued to follow Jesus at a distance as they go to the High Priest's palace. Peter put himself in some danger, but he did follow at a distance. Often Christians do the same thing on their jobs or in other surroundings.
Finding warmth at the Devil's fire: There was a door keeper at the courtyard. John arranged for Peter to come in. "But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciple, which was known unto the high priest, and spake unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter." (John 18:16) Peter is now among those that wanted to kill Jesus. He warms by their fire. "And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them." (Luke 22:55) The Priest and others were inside where Jesus was being questioned and Peter sat in the courtyard by the Devil’s fire. Peter is brave because likely if he had been recognized as the one that cut off Malchus' ear he would have been killed. (John 18:10) Peter is brave but he begins to be filled with fear.
Fulfilling the prophecy of Jesus: Luke 22:56-60 gives the account of Peter's three denials of Jesus. First, a maid looked at Peter and said, "This man was also with him. And he denied him, saying, Woman, I know him not." The second denial came when "another saw him, and said, Thou art also of them. And Peter said, Man, I am not." About an hour later the third denial came when another man insisted, "This man must have been with Jesus. They both come from Galilee." Peter replied, "I don't know what you are talking about!" Right then, while Peter was still speaking, a rooster crowed. Matthew adds, "Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew." (Matthew 26:74) Peter's pride had said, "If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise." Now in humility he, "Remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly." A look from the Lord and the crowing of a rooster taught Peter a great lesson about humility.
Let us learn to be humble. The line between great courage and being a coward is a very thin line. The message is clear, "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." (1 Corinthians 10:12) Humility is the foundation for all Christian virtues. Humility is that humble and unpretentious behavior of the godly. An overestimation of self and our own strengths leads to disastrous results. Paul wrote, "For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith." (Romans 12:3) Solomon wrote, "Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud." (Proverbs 16:19)
Humility can be practiced by the words we say. Humility will avoid bragging and boasting and exalting yourself. When you begin to put on humility and practice it you will become a different person. Humble people realize that they need God's forgiveness and the forgiveness of others. The humble publican "Standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner." (Luke 18:13) The humble are able to say, "I am sorry. I was wrong." The humble do not make excuses and try to blame others for their actions. They simply accept responsibility for who they are and what they are.
Those who are humble will not be boastful or overconfident. They will not feel the need to impress others. Solomon wrote, "A man's pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit." (Proverbs 29:23) Humble people (1) Are willing to learn, (2) Are gentle with others, and (3) Do not criticize others. Jesus humbled Himself and so should we. We read of Jesus, "Who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross." (Philippians 2:6-8) Humility comes from discovering that God is paying attention to us and seeing us as we really are. Humility causes us to recognize the need for the grace and mercy of God. Humility requires a sacrifice of pride and moving away from self-centeredness. Humility will cause you to avoid behavior such as boasting, bragging and valuing your opinion above others.
Are you a Christian? If the answer is "no" you should become a Christian now. To become a Christian you must: (1) hear the gospel of Christ (John 6:44-45), (2) believe in Jesus (Acts 8:37), (3) repent of sins (Luke 13:5), (4) confess Christ as Lord (Romans 10:9-10), and (5) be baptized to wash away your sins. (Acts 22:16) Are you a Christian? If the answer is "yes" then you are exhorted to be diligent in serving Jesus. (1 Corinthians 15:58)
By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, P.O. Box 551, Greenville, Alabama 36037 USAA