“Bring up A-7!”

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The sun is peeking above the horizon this morning, though I can’t see it – the fog is thick and blanketing the world in gray. Were I the apostle Peter on this morning a couple of thousand years ago, give or take, I would have already heard the rooster crow. Twice (Mark 14:72). In fact, Peter would have heard it around 3:00 a.m. while standing in the courtyard of Caiaphas. He would just have denied even knowing the Lord Jesus for the third time – while swearing, nonetheless.

3:00 a.m. That’s about the time when roosters crowed at that time of year Palestine (March-April). But 3:00 a.m. also the precise time of the Roman gallicinium (“cockcrow”), a trumpet call marking the end of the third watch of the night which began at midnight.

In 1970 I was attending an acting workshop on the campus of Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. We had just pulled an all-nighter, working on sets for the upcoming shows, and were taking a break out on the front steps of the theater, which faced due east. Short of sleep, but never short of hubris, one of the lighting techs stood on the top step just before dawn, raised his arm in a commanding gesture toward the eastern horizon and shouted, “Bring up A-7!” (A-7 was an old follow-spot). And, right on cue, the sun peeked up over the rim of the world. We all applauded and laughed. Good timing, I thought. He made it look like he was in control – like he could make the sun come up!

Peter was cocksure too. But, while we were just pretending, Peter really believed he was in control – that the sun would never rise on his denial of the Lord Jesus. But the Lord knew better.

So, for the rest of his life, around 3:00 a.m., every morning, but especially at Passover – no matter where he was, every time Peter heard some vain rooster crowing – every time he heard the Roman trumpet heralding the end of the third watch – he would remember his own crowing: “…If they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away!” (Matthew 26:33).

Lord, keep us from the self confidence that is born of a prideful reliance on our own strength, our own wisdom. Grant us the humility to realize that you are the Lord of life, and to trust you to strengthen us to stand fast – to acknowledge you in the courtyard, to claim you as our Savior and our Lord.

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