ECPC’s emblem is a rooster clinging to a cross.
This image does not originate with us; though we have modified it with the help a local Charlotte artist name Matt Stevens, this logo was gifted to us by our sister church City Pres (PCA) in Oklahoma City. The image itself is ancient; the substance and savoriness of this image is emphatically and spectacularly displayed for us in the active and living Word of God.
In a nutshell, this emblem is a graphic of God’s staggering grace to sinners. It is an invitation to imaginatively immerse ourselves in the story of Simon Peter’s failure; and the infinite suffering and sorrow, as well as the triumphant resurrection and jubilant ascension, of Jesus of Nazareth. Peter’s experience is our experience; Peter is the spokesman of the church, who (like Gomer) enjoys indelible union and fellowship with her husband despite her chronic wretchedness and reoccurring failures …because her husband will do whatever it takes to have her with him forever.
This emblem presents us with a paradox, and it provokes unhurried thought and deep contemplation. It bids us to acknowledge that we are just like Peter, presumptuous and prone to wander. Our efforts and accomplishments can never save us; we are saved by the perfect accomplishments, and infinite atonement found in Christ alone. The rooster reminds us of our wretchedness, the cross reminds us that we are ransomed, and the crown proclaims us royal co-heirs with Christ!
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells the disciples that they will all fall away as He will be arrested, severely beaten, and savagely murdered. Immediately afterwards in Matthew 26:33–35, Peter answered Jesus, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” Jesus said to Peter, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same.
Then in Matthew 26:69–75 we watch Simon Peter three times deny ever having any relationship to Jesus. Peter is sitting in a courtyard and a servant girl comes up to him and says, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” But Peter denied it, saying, “I do not know what you mean.” And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” And again Peter denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man.” After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.” Then Peter began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.
Simon Peter’s denial of Jesus and the rooster crowing is emphatically displayed in all four gospels. This experience broke Peter, and developed a genuine, and godly, grief leading to real repentance and a desperate dependence on God (see Proverbs 3:5 and John 15:5).
In the Gospel of John, when Peter sees his resurrected master, he hastily jumps out of his fishing boat and swims like an energetic dog to be with Jesus. Peter will not wallow in self-loathing; he will not glut himself with guilt, or pride himself on penance. Peter does not run and hide, or attempt to cover his face in shame when he sees Jesus walking along the shore; but rather as spokesman of the church we see Peter do what Christ calls all sinners to do: run to Jesus, not from Him. When we hear the sound of God walking toward us, we do not hide in fear and shame; in Christ we boldly approach the only true and living God, and we stand in the presence of Him who is Holy, Holy, Holy.
In John 21:15-19, Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me?” Three times He asks Peter this question. Three times Peter answers, “Yes. I love you.” This threefold Q&A conjures up Peter’s memoires of denial and a kind of grief flavors the third lap, but there is no condemnation; Jesus doesn’t fire or forsake Peter …Jesus reinforces for Peter the truth that apart from Him Peter can do nothing, but united to Him Peter can confidently bear fruit and feed the flock of God! The scene, with childlike simplicity, simply ends with Jesus saying to Peter, “Follow Me.”
As we follow Peter into the Book of Acts (and we digest his pastoral letters) we see a man who delights to desperately depend on Jesus. We see an Apostle who still struggles with besetting sins (see Galatians 2:11), and who bears fruit in keeping with repentance. Peter must cling to the cross of Jesus Christ, and resolve to know nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2).
The Rooster in Church History
Historically many Protestant churches in Europe placed a rooster atop their steeples. The rooster has been a Christian emblem since Jesus wielded it to show us our weakness (specifically helping us to see what we are like in the stories of Simon Peter); and compelling us to forsake our “credentials” and “accomplishments” (see John 3:3), and instead cling to the accomplishments of Christ. “Through the cross even the man who three times denied the Savior was forgiven, loved, restored and sent out to zealously live for the glory of God. There is hope in the Gospel for sinners everywhere.”
This photo is the Daviot Parish Church in Scotland.