The cock crows

Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant-girl came to him and said, ‘You also were with Jesus the Galilean.’ But he denied it before all of them, saying, ‘I do not know what you are talking about.’ When he went out to the porch, another servant-girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, ‘This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.’ Again he 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 are also one of them, for your accent betrays you.’ Then he began to curse, and he swore an oath, ‘I do not know the man!’ At that moment the cock crowed. Then Peter remembered what Jesus had said: ‘Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly. (Matthew 26.69-75)

There is a church that now stands in Jerusalem on the site of the house of the High Priest. It’s called St Peter in Gallicantu (the cockcrow). Whilst Jesus was being condemned to death in the house Peter was outside. He had followed at a distance as the soldiers took Jesus from the Garden of Gethsemane across the Kidron Valley. That was a familiar journey; they had walked part of this way each day as they made their way backwards and forewords between Bethany and Jerusalem.

But now they followed a slightly different route. The house of was on Mount Sion but just outside the walls. It meant going past the Tomb of Absalom which you can see to this day in the valley. Absalom was the son of King David, killed in battle, a traitor against his father but mourned and loved by David nevertheless. Now this true Son of David is arrested and being taken for trial and Peter knows that they want him dead.

The Church of St Peter in Gallicantu

The Church of St Peter in Gallicantu

Sitting there in the courtyard he tries to look inconspicuous – but he is a northerner down in the big city. He only has to speak to give the game away and despite denying knowing Jesus three times, it’s obvious that he is one of them, one of the band of disciples of the prisoner inside.

Then the door opens – Jesus is led out and as he passes by the cock crows and their eyes meet. Jesus doesn’t need to say anything and neither does Peter.

Lord, for the many times I have denied you
in word or silence
in action or inaction,
forgive me.
Amen.

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