Editor’s note: This Lent season, Bread Blog is running a series of devotionals written by staff, alumni, and friends of the San Francisco Theological Seminary, which is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
By Bishop Ernest L. Jackson
When the rooster crowed after Peter’s third denial of Jesus, the cock-a-doodle-doo was not to signal the dawning of a new day; rather, it was fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy that Peter had denied him. A compassionate glance from Jesus further impaled Peter’s soul and jolted him into a profuse state of remorse, as he recalled the prophetic words of Jesus spoken just hours earlier. Luke implies that his denial was a temporary weakness — a brief stumbling of confidence that was followed by bitter tears and his conversion. (Luke 22:32,62). Yet, Jesus knew Peter would turn from his sin because he had prayed that his faith would not utterly fail. (John 17:9,15).
If Lent does anything, it should remind us that while sin is pleasurable for a while, it ultimately burdens us down for the journey to freedom, which is underscored in Hebrews 12:1b: “…get rid of everything that slows us down, especially the sin that just won’t let go.” Ridding ourselves of weights and besetting sin is an act of our will not easily achieved. In fact, Paul reminds that there will be times that we will hear the same haunting cock-a-doodle-doo that Peter heard. Like Peter, if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just. God can always be trusted to forgive us and take our sins away. (1 John 1:9). It is by repentance that we have the quintessence of freedom in Jesus Christ the Son of God. So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. (John 8:36).
Bishop Ernest L. Jackson is a doctoral student at San Francisco Theological Seminary.