Good Friday. Although who exactly it was “good” for is a matter of perspective. A few years ago, cartoonist Johnny Hart drew an Easter cartoon that depicted one of his caveman characters on that first Easter Sunday morning. Try as I may, I’ve not been able to find an img of it online, but it went something like this:
First panel: Two frightened eyeballs peer over a sand dune.
Second panel: Forlorn caveman walks out from behind sand dune, hands in pockets (or whatever bearskins have for pockets).
Third Panel: Caveman is so wrapped up in his misery that he doesn’t realize he has walked out onto the surface of a lake.
Fourth panel: A rooster pops out from behind a hill and crows, startling Caveman.
Fifth panel: Startled caveman plunges into lake!
Sixth panel: Caveman coughs and sputters onto shore.
Seventh panel: Soggy caveman notices nearby cave, with round stone beside the opening.
Eighth panel: Caveman enters cave, looks around.
Ninth and final panel: Caveman enthusiastically pumps his fist and shouts “YES!!!”
Now, of course, this is a depiction of the finding of the empty tomb, but what caught my eye was something earlier…and deeper.
The little caveman in this strip is named “Peter.” The panel that caught my eye was number 4.
Just for a moment, imagine what it was like for Peter to hear a rooster crow.
Every morning for the rest of his life, to be reminded of his failure. To see again in his mind’s eye the eyes of Jesus, his friend and teacher, whom he had just denied with curses, as those eyes fell briefly upon him before being rushed away by an angry mob.
It’s easy to be hard on Peter. Never at a loss for words, Peter was the man with the plan! What’s the old saying? “Often wrong but never in doubt!” A thousand years ago and a million miles from here, I heard a preacher say “If you had been Jesus, how many times would you have given up and said with a sigh ‘Peter, just go home. You’re never gonna get it.’”
Amazingly, Jesus didn’t give up on Peter. And amazingly, he hasn’t given up on me yet, either. Even when I come to him time and again, asking forgiveness for the same old stuff. Stuff I know I shouldn’t have done. Or stuff I know I should have done and didn’t! Stuff I want desperately to fix, but can't. Words can't be unsaid, deeds undone, relationships aren't fixed by waving a magic wand, and sometimes, there's just nothing else you can do. We all have our "roosters." Maybe it's a place, maybe it's a person, a song, a scent, a time of year. Something that screams at you "YOU MESSED UP TOO BAD AND TOO OFTEN, BUDDY! GOD CAN'T POSSIBLY LOVE YOU ANYMORE!! YOU'LL NEVER BE HEALED! YOU'LL NEVER BE WHOLE! GIVE IT UP, LOSER! YOU'LL NEVER BE GOOD ENOUGH!!"
But ultimately, our faith does not rest on our character but on God’s. Not on our too-often-broken promises to Him, but His unbreakable promise to us. Not even on the accuracy of much translated eyewitness accounts of men we’ve never met, but on the character of a living God whom we have met! Not in the empty promises and occupied tomb of a long-dead prophet, but in the fulfilled promises and unoccupied tomb of a risen Saviour!