bad crowing | John 13.36-38
Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times. John 13:36-38 | ESV
Simon (that’s right, Peter), missing the love, pipes up about his announced absence: “Lord, just where are you going?” Jesus, understanding the real question, responds, “You can’t follow me on this journey, not this time, at least not yet. But your time will come. Later.” Peter refused to take that for an answer, “Who says? Lord, why can’t I follow you on this journey now? My soul, my life, for you. I will lay it all down for you.” “Your soul for me?” Jesus shot back – but was that grief or laughter in his voice – or both? “You’ll lay it all down for me, will you? Read my lips and underline my words to you: The cock won’t crow – it won’t utter a sound – until your own crowing voice has disowned me – not once, but three times.” MAV (Mike’s Amplified Version)
Another point of small group wisdom I pass on to small group leaders.
Every group will have an EGR. Usually several. In fact, each of us takes a turn being one, so we better be kind to them when we encounter them. What’s an EGR? Extra-grace-required. The guy who always sticks his foot in his mouth – or worse, in the mouths of every one else in the group; the gal who always steers the conversation back to herself; or the fellow who somehow always manages to get the group talking about the Rapture. Again.
Peter was clearly an EGR kind of guy in the Jesus group. Simon (“he hears”) was his given name at his birth, but Peter (“rock”) was the name given him by Christ that he lived and died with. “Rock.” “Rocky.” On the positive, prophetic side of things, the name pointed to the foundational, bedrock life Peter would live. On the more immediate, experiential side of things, perhaps, for the group, “rock” perhaps signified more what Simon had for a brain.
He blurted things out.
He was impulsive.
Major foot-in-mouth disease carrier.
The others may have tolerated him, but Jesus loved him. And he empowered him to be leader of the group when Jesus’ days with them were done.
The upper room is an EGR kind of space. There will be the bad crowing of presumption and pride, the jockeying for position, the shoving of the pecking order as everyone reaches for the seat of honor instead of the basin and the towel. Not once, but three times. And more.
Which means only one thing: The upper room is the ideal environment in which “the one another love as he has loved us” can actually take root, grow and bear fruit. Ivory towers and blogging pedestals need not apply. It takes the rough and tumble world of the upper room, filled with uniquely maddening EGRs and all their bad crowing – that he, somehow, transforms into a sacred hymn.
When most recently have you struggled with an EGR in your workplace? Your home? Your church? Your small group? How did you handle them? How do you wish to be handled when it’s your turn to play the EGR?
Lord, teach me how to bless, how to love on the difficult people around me; remind me that, before you, few are and have been more difficult, more in need of grace and mercy, than have I – and from the humility of that awareness, pour through me your fresh mercies. Through Christ.