“I tell you,” answered Jesus, “that you yourself today – yes, this very night – before the cock crows twice, will disown me three times.”
you don’t have to like it
one potato two potato
three potato four
we all fall down
each time a rooster crows
we’ve moved on
ho ho ho
get used to it
whether Jack goes up or down
he’s going to break his crown
and all the king’s horses
won’t put it together again
get real listen to the rooster
Mark begins with “Amen!” an emphatic declaration and moves on to another emphatic that might better be phrased, “You yourself”. This is to say that while all the disciples will betray in one form or another, it is Peter who will make the formal denials of Jesus. Even Judas’ handing-over is a smaller betrayal than Peter’s denial that he has even a nodding acquaintance with Jesus.
We are reminded here of the return of the vacationing house-owner returning at an unknown time, perhaps cockcrow. This may be pre-dawn with real roosters or before the Roman bugle call—gallicinium (cock-crow)—the end of the third watch of the night—3:00 a.m.
A third emphasis is heard in the phrasing about three denials happening before two rooster crows. Were it three denials and three crows we would have a sense of pace and regularity. Here, in Mark’s hurried pace, Peter will squeeze in three denials before there are two crows.
The result is an understanding of the dire situation in which Jesus finds himself. Not unexpected, as he has been talking about being handed over for a while, but ever more real and imminent. Those not in his sandals are still able to evade having to come to terms with the overwhelming expectation that there is no exit from the course of events. And, if there were an out available, it would be inauthentic to take it for it would be a denial of good news, belovedness, and a steady basic hope beyond any evidence to the contrary.
It is helpful to attend to Carrington’s444 reference to F. C. Grant’s suggestion that “the words are a proverbial expression indicating not time, but readiness to betray….”
We will see Jesus’ readiness to betray his lot in just another few verses. This knowledge may enter into his assessment of Peter.