After the Rooster Crows
by Madison Rohn
I am not . . . I don’t know what you’re talking about! . . . I don’t know Him!
That ear-splintering sound snaps me awake. The rooster. I must have heard it thousands of times growing up. But now . . .
It’s the Sabbath. Not like that means anything now.
I scan the room. All of us here are lost in our own fog of thoughts. Eleven grown men cowering behind locked doors.
Coward. A week ago, I’d rather lose teeth than be called that word. But it fits. Look at us. Sheep. Scattered. Just like He said, “You will all fall away.” . . .
But what were we supposed to do? Fight? He rejected my sword. And if we had let ourselves be taken with Him—what good are we dead? But … What good are we alive? What good news is there to declare when your savior is dead? I suppose, at least, if I was in prison or dead, I’d be keeping my word. I wouldn’t have this—this guilt—this shame.
What was I so afraid of on that dawn? Death? But I’ve seen Him raise people from the dead before. So He could’ve saved me if I was killed, right? But then, why is He dead? Maybe it was a fear of pain, of torture, of embarrassment. Yet, He went through all of those alone. I could have easily cried out, “Yes, I know Him! I follow Him!” . . . I guess I was afraid of having to eat the words that I swore a few hours earlier.
Some of the others are talking now. As they speak in low voices, their eyes glance over in my direction. My brother, Andrew, leaves the group and sits by me. “Simon, what’s the plan?” His eyes are still rimmed in red.
I stare past his head at the covered window. “There is no plan.” My voice comes out flat, emotionless.
“Let him be alone for now,” John tells my brother, and he moves to another corner of the crowded room.
John was there. He saw it all happen, the verdicts, the cross, the ground quaking. He watched Him die. Does he feel like I do? Does he have as many regrets?
Was it really only two nights ago that we all sat around a table together? Now it feels like some cold memory carved in stone. How did He sit there with all of us knowing everything? Knowing He was surrounded by cowards? Knowing that one of us would betray Him? If I knew, I would have stopped Ju– that traitor when he ran out that night. I would have run after him and—
“He said this would happen, didn’t He?” Matthew’s voice, barely above a whisper, fills the room. “He told us He would be killed.”
Minutes pass, and no one responds.
“But He was supposed to bring a new kingdom,” James speaks into the weighted silence. “The prophecies said . . .” His voice trails off.
The others look at me again. I turn away from them, so they transfer their gazes to John. What do they think I can give them? Guidance? Hope? I have neither. I’m a cracked foundation. I’ve been sifted like wheat and came out a failure. I followed Him for years through the cities and the countryside. I followed Him onto crashing waters. But when He really needed me, when everyone else left, I couldn’t follow Him. I denied Him over and over again. What does that make me? What am I now? A failed fisherman. A failed disciple. A failed friend.
If God can see me, I hope He knows that I wish I could start over. If I was given the same chance, my back pressed against the wall, I’d say, “Yes! I know Him! I’d follow Him to the ends of the earth!” At least, that’s what I’d like to think. I guess I won’t ever know.
The rooster crows again. The sunlight shines on my eyes from the window. It’s a new day, a new week, yet what is there to look forward to?
A relentless knock shakes the door, pulling the others from their sleep. John walks over to the door and asks, “Who is it?”
“It’s Mary!” a woman’s frantic voice yells.
John opens the door, and she rushes in. Her breathing is fast and sweat glistens on her face. I stand to my feet. Something’s wrong. “What is it, Mary?” I ask.
She looks at me with a big smile and bright eyes that resembles a look of pure joy that I had not seen on anyone in days. “The tomb is empty!”
“This morning. An angel told me!”
Alive? That’s . . . that’s incredible. And true. It has to be. Why would Mary lie about this, to us? . . . But if it is true, and He’s alive again, how could I face Him? How could I stand before Him with us both knowing that I abandoned Him? I open my mouth and stammer, “I . . . I don’t . . .”
But, what is more important? My broken pride or finding out the truth and possibly seeing my greatest friend, teacher, and Lord again?
“Come see for yourselves!” Mary grins at me.
John and I look at each other, and we race out the door.