A Poultry Piece
Baptist preachers like to eat chicken on Biblical and moral grounds. As my former pastor James Hobbs used to say, since that rooster told on Peter, we’ve been waging war on them ever since. It’s just a bonus that fried chicken is finger-licking good. You don’t read about any chickens in the Old Testament unless you are counting the men of Israel looking at Goliath or the twenty thousand of Gideon’s army looking at the Midianites. Now that I think about it, there are quite a few chickens in the Old Testament. An article at Grammarphobia.com says that “the cowardly sense of the noun “chicken” ultimately comes from the use of “hen” for a fainthearted person, contrasted with “cock” (rooster) for a dominant person.” What if you are such a chicken you are afraid of chickens? You have alektorophobia. Alektorophobia comes from the Greek word for rooster alector. Thayer said that Greek word is from aleko, which means to ward off, giving a nod to the rooster protecting the hens. A rooster is no chicken, if you get my drift.
But I digress. According to the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, the chicken is thought to have first been domesticated in India from the red jungle fowl. There are records from China circa 1400BC mentioning importing the birds. From there, they were exported to Greece, then Italy, eventually becoming popular in the Middle East. By the time you get to the New Testament days, the beloved birds were so common, they reckoned time during the night by the rooster crow. Jesus used a mother hen as an example of love and care in Matthew where He said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!”
What did Peter think when he heard a rooster crow? Jesus foretold that Peter’s cockalorum would lead to him denying Jesus three times before the cock crowed, and when Peter heard that caw, he remembered what Jesus said, and it broke his heart (Matthew 26:74-75). Sometimes I’ll hear a song playing, and I’m immediately taken back to a moment that I forever associate with that song. Often, it’s something I’d like to forget. I don’t know if roosters made Peter cringe, but I often think about Peter when I hear one crowing. Then I think of Jesus, who died for his sins, cleansed and made him whole. Not only did Jesus forgive Peter, but he restored him to the ministry, and Peter spent the rest of his life telling people about the marvelous grace of Jesus, reminding Christians of the gospel and strengthening them, so they would not fall (2 Peter 1).
And think, all this because someone, long ago, caught a bird in the woods and decided they’d take it home and try to raise them. God’s providence is marvelous, ordaining a jungle bird’s domestication for his glory.