"Peter said to him, 'Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.' Jesus said, 'I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.' [...] But Peter said, 'Man, I do not know what you are talking about.' And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, 'Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.' And he went out and wept bitterly."
(Luke 22:33-4, 60-62)
During that final meal, laden with significance, the Lord’s friends postured for position and boasted of their loyalty to their leader. Could the time be upon them? The anticipation was palpable.
Peter said to him, ‘Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.’
But his Lord's voice broke through the posturing and the boasting with his sobering word:
'I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.’
Peter couldn’t, wouldn’t believe what was said about him, even if it came from the mouth of his Lord. He and his friends grabbed a few swords—as if a pair of swords could hold the forces of Death at bay—and they followed their Lord out into the night.
But then it did happen—what the Lord already knew was true, but what Peter couldn’t, wouldn’t believe could happen.
And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times,’
And he went out and wept bitterly.
Would Peter have felt such contrition—would he have moved from “Surely not, Lord” to weeping over his sin—if Jesus hadn’t already warned him of what would come, if the rooster hadn’t crowed, if it weren’t for that piercing look from the Lord? Would Peter have come to repentance of his own, without something from outside of him breaking in?
That look from the Lord was not a look of shock or surprise. Jesus already knew this would happen. It was not a look that abandoned all hope. Jesus already knew that Peter would turn again, and then strengthen his brothers. Neither was that look from the Lord a look of pronounced condemnation. Jesus already knew that on another morning very soon, by His grace, Peter would be restored on the shore of a lake as a fire crackled and the morning light broke through.
No, it was the look of One who knew that it was only in repentance and contrition that Peter could be brought close to Him. That look of broken-hearted sorrow was the look of Love breaking in.
And through our posturing and our denials, through our inability to bring our own hearts to a place of repentance—Love is still breaking in.
(Written by Elisabeth Elliott)