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BEFORE THE ROOSTER CROWS

Dear John,

One of my most memorable experiences in Israel happened many years ago right outside the Old City of Jerusalem. I was living at a school on Mount Zion at the time, pursuing a master’s degree in Judeo-Christian Studies. As students often do, we came up with a bright idea that provided adventure while burning off pent-up energy from days spent in class. Our idea was to hike to the top of the Mount of Olives to watch the sunrise.

Early one morning, while it was still dark outside, a group of about six of us began the hike around Mount Zion, alongside the southern walls of the Old City, down into the Kidron Valley, and then up the Mount of Olives, passing the Garden of Gethsemane along the way. We had only just begun our trek around Mount Zion when we unexpectedly heard a rooster crow.

In the still of the night, the sound of that rooster reverberated off the stone walls and hills of Jerusalem and could be heard throughout the area. I was immediately transported back some 2,000 years. It was in this same vicinity of Jerusalem that Peter had denied knowing Jesus three times before hearing a rooster crow for the second time, just as Jesus had said would happen. I could just imagine how loud it had sounded to Peter, jolting him into the realization of what he had done and how Jesus had predicted that very moment.

A rooster crowing in the middle of Jerusalem was not something I would have expected to hear. “But then again,” I thought to myself, “it is the Middle East.” What I did not know then, but I came to learn some years later, is that we were walking right beside the church that commemorates this story in Scripture—and this church keeps a rooster on the premises. We probably woke the poor bird up!

Susan

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