George H. Morrison - Devotional Sermons
And immediately...the cock crew--Luk. 22:60
What You Hear Depends on What You Are
It is a deep truth, though not the whole truth, that what we hear depends on what we are. The meaning which we find in any voice is largely determined by ourselves. Peter was not the only one that night who heard the thrilling summons of the cock crow. Through that tense night of agony many would be wakeful in Jerusalem. But for Peter there was something in that note which was inaudible to anybody else; he heard it with the hearing of his soul. To the sufferer it meant that the darkness of the night was passing. To the laborer it was a sign and token that the toil of another day must soon begin. To Peter it was a swift reminder of his cowardice and of his boasting, and of the warning message of his Lord.
Our Memory Is a Light Sleeper
One notes here, what is so often true, how a simple common thing can wake the memory. Our Lord wanted to waken Peter's memory, and He did it by the crowing of the cock. In the dark hour when he was tricked and trapped Peter had forgotten everything. He had forgotten his loyalty and love, and his infinite indebtedness to Jesus. One might have thought that nothing but a thunder-clap would arrest that panic-stricken heart; but Jesus is wiser than our thought. There is no peal of thunder at the dawn. There is no angelic music as at Bethlehem. There is nothing but ordinary cock-crow, familiar to Peter since he was a boy. But our Lord, who knows our nature perfectly, knows that memory is a light sleeper, waking up at the very slightest knock. A bar of music or some familiar fragrance, and the past is all back with us again. A scrap of writing or a little shoe and we are wandering through vanished years. Often when we have sinned and fallen, and are in peril of the hardened heart, it is in such ways that memory awakes. Hence the simplicity of Christian sacraments. They are not anticipative; they are commemorative. They do not portray One who is unknown; their office is to recall One who has been here. So all that is needed is a bit of bread and a cup of wine upon the table--and we remember the Lord's death until He comes. Legend would have awakened Peter by some wild shattering of the elements. It would have sounded a trumpet in high heaven. Christ, who knows our frame, and is always economical of miracle, does it by the crowing of the cock.
Why Did the Lord Choose a Sign of the Dawn?
One detects also in this note of warning a message of high hope for Simon Peter. There are birds which start their singing when the evening falls; but cockcrow is the herald of the day. The cock was crying that morning was at hand. It was the scout of sunrise. Its call was a clarion that after the dark hours there was going to be hopeful light again. And I think that our blessed Savior chose that token to tell Peter that his night was passing, and that the dawn was going to redden on the hills. Might He not easily have made His note of time the paling or the setting of the stars'? Might He not have pointed to the soldiers' torches, and by the quenching of these torches dated things? But deliberately, right in the heart of warning, our Lord brought in the shrilling of the cock--and cockcrow is the harbinger of morning. Peter had known that since his childhood. He had heard that note across the sea of Galilee. After many a weary night of fishing it had broken with reviving power on his ear. And who can doubt that now, with all the bitter memories it awoke, it struck a chord of hope in Peter's heart? Sinner though he was, there was going to be another day for him. He was going to have another opportunity of showing love and loyalty and service. That deep blending of memory and hope is the authentic touch of Jesus, as we all find when we take the bread and wine.
One feels the beauty of that symbol more if we compare it with what we read of Judas. "Then Judas, having received the sop, went immediately out, and it was night." Between Judas and Simon Peter there was all the difference in the world--the one deliberate, calculating, cold; the other failing in temporary panic. And Judas, sinning, went out into the night; it was the symbol of his darkened spirit--but Peter, sinning, heard the bird of morning. The one had made himself the child of darkness; the other, for all his sin, was facing eastward. Judas had let night into his heart before he went out into the night. But Peter, for all the staggering of his cowardice, loved his Lord with a passionate devotion and immediately, when he had sinned, he heard the, cockcrow. There was bitter memory in that, but there was something more than bitter memory. There was something that Judas never got; there was the promise of another day. And how that day dawned, after the resurrection, and how Peter was restored to love and service, all readers of the Gospel story know.
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