Journey's End by Derek HegstedJesus told his disciples many times why He had come to earth, and what He ultimately had to do. Despite this, it is remarkable how in this most important of His actions, the death of Jesus on the cross seems to have taken them all by surprise. The writers of the Gospel accounts don’t explain or defend the cluelessness of even Jesus’ closest friends; they simply document it. 

For one of these friends, Peter, the magnitude of his own failure was particularly painful. He had been one of Jesus’ most vocal supporters, and one most likely to take a chance (remember the walking-on-the-water miracle?) And just before the arrest of Jesus, Peter loudly proclaimed his refusal to leave Him, even if it meant death. When the time actually arrived and the soldiers came to apprehend Jesus in the garden, Peter even took his sword and attacked a member of the company (a slave, not a soldier). But rather than giving His followers the word to continue to defend Him, and instead of performing one of His many miracles of just avoiding those who were trying to captures, Jesus criticized Peter, healed the servant Peter had injured with his sword, and simply gave Himself up to the guard. The result was that even Peter turned tail and ran off, as did all of the other disciples.

Still not understanding what was going on, Peter didn’t go into hiding. He sneaked into the courtyard near where the trial of Jesus was held, and tried to get some information on what was going on, perhaps planning on how he could bring about a rescue. When he was recognized by others in that area, he tried to maintain his cover by denying any connection to Jesus. But as dawn approached, and after his third refusal to acknowledge an association with Him, a rooster crowed. This caused Peter’s world to cave in on him; he was reminded of Jesus’ prediction that Peter would disown Him three times. And to make it worse, Jesus was being brought through that courtyard at that very moment, and caught Peter’s eye. The enormity of his failure then overwhelmed him completely, and Peter ran off. He was so distraught by these events that he totally disappeared; he is not reported in any of the four Gospels as being in attendance at the crucifixion of Jesus. 

And that brings us to today’s song. This is Easter Sunday, 2009, when we celebrate that fact that the cross was not the end of the story of Jesus. He did not stay dead; on the third day after his execution, Jesus rose from the dead, just like He said He would to! He fulfilled His purpose for coming to earth, defeated the schemes of Satan, and won back rulership of the earth that Adam had lost to Satan. Jesus had achieved the greatest victory of all time!

And yet, in the midst of His victory, Jesus did not immediately take up rulership of the earth. His plans for the world involved much more yet to come before that time would be ready. What He did do was to make His resurrection known to just a few at a time. He started with the women who had helped in His ministry on earth, those who came to take care of His body in the tomb. Later He also appeared to His disciples in several instances that are documented in the Gospels. And although the scene with Peter described in today’s song is not in the Bible directly, it is entirely consistent with the heart of Jesus to seek out those who needed forgiveness. And Peter certainly did need that. Luke 24:34 mentions that Jesus appeared to Peter, and 1 Corinthians 15:4 states that of all the disciples, Peter was the first to see the risen Lord. So, here is Don Francisco’s vision of this encounter, inspired by John 20:1-8. He’s Alive appeared on his 1977 album, Forgiven, and is one of most famous songs of the Jesus movement.

The gates and doors were barred,
And all the windows fastened down
I spent the night in sleeplessness
And rose at every sound
Half in hopeless sorrow
And half in fear the day
Would find the soldiers breaking through
To drag us all away

And just before the sunrise
I heard something at the wall
The gate began to rattle
And a voice began to call
I hurried to the window,
Looked down into the street
Expecting swords and torches
And the sound of soldiers feet

There was no one there but Mary
So I went down to let her in
John stood there beside me
As she told us where she’d been
She said “They’ve moved Him in the night
And none of us knows where.
The stone’s been rolled away
And now His body isn’t there!”

We both ran t’ward the garden
And then John ran on ahead
We found the stone and the empty tomb
Just the way that Mary said
But the winding sheet they wrapped Him in
Was just an empty shell
And how or where they’d taken Him
Was more than I could tell

Well, something strange had happened there –
Just what, I did not know.
John believed a miracle,
But I just turned to go;
Circumstance and speculation
Didn’t lift me very high
‘Cause I’d seen them crucify Him,
And then I saw Him die

Back inside the house again
The guilt and anguish came
Everything I’d promised Him
Just added to my shame
When at last it came to choices,
I denied I knew His name!
And even if He was alive,
It wouldn’t be the same

Suddenly the air was filled
With strange and sweet perfume
A light that came from everywhere
Drove shadows from the room
Jesus stood before me
With His arms held open wide
And I fell down on my knees
And just clung to Him and cried!

He raised me to my feet
And as I looked into His eyes
Love was shining out from them
Like sunlight from the skies
Guilt and my confusion
Disappeared in sweet release
And every fear I’d every had
Just melted into peace!

He’s alive!
He’s alive!
He’s alive and I’m forgiven,
Heaven’s gates are opened wide

He’s alive!
He’s alive!
He’s alive and I’m forgiven
Heaven’s gates are opened wide

He’s alive!
He’s alive!
He’s alive and I’m forgiven
Heaven’s gates are opened wide

He’s alive!
He’s alive!
He’s alive!

Forgiven, Don Francisco, 1977

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.