Every Easter, the Preacher pulls out our guitar, sits down, clears his throat and begins. It’s one of our family’s favourite traditions:
“The gates and doors were barred, 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 breakin’ through to drag us all away…”
The song, He’s Alive, by singer/songwriter Don Francisco, has gripped us, and millions of others, for decades. It tells the story of what happened following Jesus’ resurrection from the perspective of Peter, his most ardent follower – the one who, after his Lord’s arrest, denied knowing him. Not once, but three times.
“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 soldier’s 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 toward the garden, 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 couldn’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. Even if He was alive, it wouldn’t be the same.
“Suddenly the air was filled with strange and sweet perfume. Light that came from everywhere drove shadows from the room. Jesus stood before me, with His arms held open wide. 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 Him like sunlight from the skies. Guilt and my confusion disappeared in sweet release, and every fear I’d ever had just melted into peace.
“He’s alive, He’s alive! He’s alive and I’m forgiven. Heaven’s gates are open wide. He’s alive, He’s alive
He’s alive and I’m forgiven. Heaven’s gates are open wide.”
The song we love is not Peter’s story alone. It’s our story too. Perhaps yours. It’s the story of anyone who has ever denied, neglected or hated Christ and then discovered His reality, love and forgiveness.
This Easter, discover truth. Discover Jesus.
If you have a few minutes, and love both Peter’s story and the Francisco’s song, you’ll enjoy hearing Don’s story of composing it –