The Rooster Calls
March 7, 2021 Pastor: Rev. Lloyd Gross
THE ROOSTER CALLS
Let's start with some military history. Have you heard of the battle of Savo Island? The World War II veterans know of it. I wasn't born yet when it happened. I'll get back to it in a little, but first I'm going to list some other battles that make the same point: Borodino in 1812, Chickamauga in 1863, Tannenberg in 1914. What do they all have in common? They were all convincing victories, but the people who won them lost the war. Now the people who lost them would have to call them failures. They had sent armies or fleets to perform a mission, which they did not accomplish. But remember this - none of these failures was fatal. Many an enemy has come inside the fort, but could not stay to capture it. One bold counterstroke can kick him back outside. The good fight of faith is like that. The fighting never seems to end. We aren't going to win every battle. But the good news is that we don't have to. We can afford to lose battles because our side has to win the war. There is no doubt about that.
In our lesson we see St. Peter. His name means "Rock." But the scene he played in this lesson does not show us Rocky I. Peter had a chance to be a witness for Jesus. No I don't mean that he had an opportunity to argue with people. That isn't witnessing. He had an opportunity to be faithful to his Lord, to confess Him before men. Not only did he fail, he made himself look ridiculous doing it, even to swearing about it. Think about who this is -- a disciple, a saint, a friend of the Lord, Jesus' First Lieutenant. On that evening the devil's assaults just brushed the Rock aside. Now let me tell you why I said it was like Savo Island. That's a small, round island in the sound between Guadalcanal and Tulagi in the Solomon Islands. Just after midnight on August 9, 1942 a task force of the Imperial Japanese Navy came out of the darkness and sank four allied heavy cruisers without receiving so much as a scratch in return. Peter was like those Americans and Australians. He did no damage to the tempter. The point is, however, that although Peter failed, he was not finished. Let this shaken disciple show us how to survive our failures while we learn the lessons of grace that god has put into them. It is through such setbacks that we grow.
Nobody likes to fail. That why we say we don't like to take tests. It isn't the tests we don't like, it's the possibility of failing. Life is a series of tests. Every time you roll your bowling ball you're taking a test. Getting splits and gutter balls is failing. It's a lot more fun if you get strikes and spares. Faith is like bowling. It's better when you succeed at it. Satan definitely isn't trying to get us to fail for our own good. We do better if we practice, but life forces us to practice under game conditions. Satan wants to wear down individual Christians, while also disrupting the fellowship of the church. Satan wants us to give up, to consider our failures and quit. While Peter was in Gethsemane with a sword in his hand he felt like a giant. He thought he won a victory when he cut off Malchus' ear. In the next scene we see him disarmed, accused, face to face with a critical moment. Nothing was happening the way Peter thought it would. He denied knowing the Lord. Then came the horrible realization that he had muffed his chance. That battle was lost. But Peter had not lost the war. Jesus was calling Peter to repent and regroup. How did Jesus pull this off? With a simple little rooster. Jesus had predicted this entire incident. And when the rooster crowed, Peter remembered the prediction. He again came face to face with reality, unpleasant though it was. He needed to repent, and he did.
We are all flesh and blood, compounds of strength and weakness. We are going to be tempted. We are going to lose confidence, and when we do we are going to make compromises with false words and ideas. We are going to waste opportunities to be faithful. If this has never happened to you, just wait. It will. That is what the New Testament means when it speaks of "confessing that Jesus is the Lord." If we did that without compromise, that would be succeeding. But if we don't confess that Jesus is Lord, we fail. Then comes Satan's follow-up, which is really frightening. He might try to get you to deny your failure. Most people are too smart for that. Almost anything can serve as a mirror, even a rooster. Or he might have somebody scold us. Don't fault those people. If anyone doesn't think sin is a serious problem, he needs to hear the Law. We each need our rooster. When Peter looked up he saw Jesus being led through the High Priest's courtyard. Their eyes met for a moment. Peter went out and wept bitterly. Of course he wept. He was at the bottom of the pit. But he had a promise to fall back on, Jesus had said that He would pray for Peter. The Holy Spirit was in that promise. He used it to save Peter. If Satan though that rubbing Peter's nose in his failure would get him to quit, Satan was dead wrong.
We are here today because Jesus loves us in spite of our failures. He died to forgive our failures. He rose again and reigns forever. He understands our weaknesses, for He was weak Himself in Gethsemane. He was weak on the cross. But God kept all of his promises in Him. God will be true though every man be false. Faith holds many mysteries, and one is this -- that hidden in every cross is the seed of the resurrection. In every human weakness is an opportunity for God's strength.
So Peter could count on this, and not let his failure keep him from claiming the name of Jesus. He knew that Jesus loved him anyway. He knew that Jesus would make him righteous. On Easter morning it became clear, all the apostles could see that they were redeemed. They were justified, and by the Holy Spirit they were changed. Never again would Peter reach for his sword when things went wrong. He would stand before the Council and boldly proclaim what he should have said in the courtyard. He was part of the Messiah's kingdom. He was winning the war.
The same mercy works for us. We must not deny our failures. We don't have to be afraid because Jesus is in charge. No, He doesn't grant our every whim. But there will always be new opportunities to confess him faithfully. Sometimes He might put a rooster into our lives. When He does, know that He has already forgiven you. Your failure is not the end of the world. Nor does it matter whether or not you cry. Peter was very emotional. Someone else might not be. When you interact with God's Law and Gospel, when your crushing burden disappears, it can be very moving. You might not see God's strength working in your weakness, but it is. Remember the promises. Trust the promises. The cross is the trademark of the Messiah's kingdom. AMEN.