The story of the first Easter is a roller-coaster of highs and lows and highs. Jesus enters Jerusalem in triumph, acclaimed as the Messiah, the Saviour of the Jewish people, only to be arrested, tried and crucified by the Roman authorities. His followers are scattered, one of them, Peter, even denying he knew Jesus. Entombed for three days, it seems as if this is the end of Jesus’ story, until His followers, including Mary Magdalene, make an incredible discovery. Writer Matt Gillon takes up the tale:

There is hustle and bustle in the City of David. Crowds everywhere. The city is usually full, but now it is bursting. There is a joyful energy in the air thick with the voices of family and friends reuniting after long journeys, here to celebrate Passover.

“Hey … have you heard the news? A new rabbi is in town. They say he speaks about God in new ways and works miracles.”

“Really? Miracles? Has God begun to talk to us once more? It has been decades, no, hundreds of years of silence. I’ve heard the rumours, too, but I’ll believe it when I hear it for myself.”

Suddenly, there is a commotion. Roman soldiers push the crowds aside, yelling at people to clear the way. A blood-soaked, battered figure stumbles past, a rough-hewn beam strapped to his shoulders. As the small group continues toward the city gate, a sea of people swallows the brief disruption.

“Someone is saying that was the rabbi, Jesus?”

“Surely not. Why on earth is He being punished by the Romans? He’s a Jew. And a rabbi!”

Death of a Rabbi

Confirmation came later that afternoon.

“It was Jesus. Some of the neighbours had been out to see Him. Crucified like a common thief. Apparently, it was one of His own disciples who betrayed Him, too.”

“Bah, what a waste of a good and godly man. I have so many questions.”

Collapsed in a side street is a shadow of a man, wincing at the conversation. Pressed into a corner, slumped behind some barrels, Peter can barely be seen. He hasn’t spoken all day; last time he did, he regretted it. His accent almost gave him away. He has been up all night and his world is shattered. His eyes, heavy with tears, give way to sleep.

Could It Be?

Rooster crows break the crisp morning air, echoing through the neighbourhood. He staggers to his feet in the dawn light. Still groggy and barely functioning, the day is a blur of eyes everywhere and the fear of discovery. Then, finally, familiar faces. Security. Food. Quiet company, broken only by deep questions with no answers. Is it night again already? Where did the day go?

“Peter!” Thump, thump, thump. “John!” Thump, thump, thump. Another morning, shocked awake; Peter recognizes Mary’s voice, but it sounds strange. She continues her incessant banging then bursts through the barely open door. Chatter from the women is as fast and punchy as their knocks. 

“He’s gone! We thought they took Jesus’ body … instead, we saw angels. They asked us why we were looking for the living among the dead. He is alive!” 

Peter, unsure, starts running, but his fellow apostle, John, beats him to the tomb. From a distance he can see the stone is rolled away, and not a guard in sight. Hearts already pounding, they enter—neatly folded grave clothes, no body. 

The walk home is much slower; something has shifted deep inside. Hope has been born again. Could it be true? Is Jesus alive? And if He is, well, this changes … everything!

If you would like to know more about the Easter story, turn to John 20 in the New Testament.

Reprinted from War Cry (New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa), April 16, 2022

Photo: Philip Steury/

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