Blessed… And the Rooster Crowed

69 Meanwhile, Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant woman came and said to him, “You were also with Jesus the Galilean.”

70 But he denied it in front of all of them, saying, “I don’t know what you are talking about.”

71 When he went over to the gate, another woman saw him and said to those who were there, “This man was with Jesus, the man from Nazareth.”

72 With a solemn pledge, he denied it again, saying, “I don’t know the man.”

73 A short time later those standing there came and said to Peter, “You must be one of them. The way you talk gives you away.”

74 Then he cursed and swore, “I don’t know the man!” At that very moment the rooster crowed. 75 Peter remembered Jesus’ words, “Before the rooster crows you will deny me three times.” And Peter went out and cried uncontrollably (Matthew 26:69-75, Common English Bible).

One of my favorite all-time books was required reading when I was in seminary. I took a class titled, “Preaching and Contemporary Literature.” Almost all the books we read for the class were novels (without question the easiest reading I ever had for a course in seminary). Silence by Shusaku Endo was easily my favorite book in the class. I am not sure I would say it is my favorite book but it is definitely in my top ten.

Martin Scorsese turned the book into a movie that premiered in 2016. Though I loved the book, I have not seen the movie. It may well be because I loved the book so much, I fear being disappointed with the movie.

The book is set in 17th century Japan. Catholic missionaries have gone to Japan to evangelize the indigenous population. While in Japan Father Ferreira abdicates the faith. He was the mentor for two other priests, Father Rodrigues and Father Garupe. These two find it unbelievable that Ferreira would leave the faith and they travel to Japan to both evangelize and find Ferreira to learn why.

Once in Japan, Rodrigues starts to build a fair sized body of believers. It doesn’t take long before the government authorities to notice, find Rodrigues and arrest him. He is surprised by how well he is treated. Then he learns of the horrible treatment his converts receive. It can all stop. All he must do is, what his mentor had done before him. abdicate the faith.

In a chilling scene, the Japanese authorities placed a picture of Jesus on the ground and tell Rodrigues to step on the picture. If he does so, all the torture to the new Christians will stop. He also will, in that moment cease being a priest. It gives a new meaning to the idea of laying down one’s life for a friend.

Rodrigues stands above the picture and it seems to come alive before his eyes. The face of Jesus says, “Trample, trample. It is for this, for humanity to walk on me I came into the world (my paraphrase).” With that Rodrigues steps on the picture. Endo then rights, “And in the distance, a cock crowed.”

Of course, the scene alludes to Peter denying Jesus in the portion of the story that is today’s reading. Peter denied Jesus with his words and heard a rooster crow. Rodrigues denied Jesus with an action and heard a cock crow. We deny Jesus in many ways. Have you heard a rooster crow?

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Thankfulness,

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

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