Peter’s First Easter
Walter Wangerin, Jr. & Timothy Ladwig
One of the reasons I’m glad that Easter is around the corner is that I finally get to tell you about Peter’s First Easter! It’s long been one of my favorites and, in fact, it was one of a handful of books that inspired us to launch this blog. I’m delighted to be sharing it with you today.
Peter’s First Easter is a first-person retelling (by the apostle Peter) of the story of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. Starting at the Last Supper and continuing through the “feed my sheep” passage in John 21, Peter tells us not just the facts about what happened, but how he felt about it – and how it changed his life. It’s a book about the power of God’s forgiveness to us through Jesus and how being reconciled to God transforms us and gives us a mission.
The first-person narration is a big part of what makes this book so moving. Many children’s books about the resurrection tend to lapse into an impersonal recounting of events, which makes it difficult to fully enter into the reality of what’s being communicated. The fact that Peter is the one doing the narrating is icing on the cake: there is so much about Peter that young children (and all of us, really) can relate to. He’s impetuous, affectionate, and he loves Jesus and betrays him and loves him again.
Walter Wangerin, as I’ve written before, is a master storyteller and Peter’s First Easter is yet another display of his literary prowess. Here’s a brief example from the closing scene in the book, right after Jesus thrice asks Peter if he loves him and gives him the lifelong task of feeding his sheep:
Jesus has forgiven me. Three times I hurt him, and he took the hurt, and he went down to death with it. When he rose from the dead, the hurt was gone…Forgiveness! We are both forgiven!
After you read a book like this you’re not going to be satisfied with theological twaddle for much longer. Wangerin doesn’t detail every single implication of the resurrection (Jesus as the firstborn from the dead, Easter as the beginning of the new creation), but I wouldn’t expect that in a children’s book anyway. What Wangerin does offer us in this book is an exquisite proclamation of the unbelievable forgiveness that is ours in Christ, and that is a story that I would like to see in every family’s home library.
Sadly, this wonderful book is out of print. Used copies are readily available, but the prices go up and down pretty frequently. A few years ago they were going for something like $50, a couple of weeks ago there were a bunch listed for under $1, and today when I checked there were a few up for under $10 (and several others for more than that). Moral of the story: when you find one of these gems for a reasonable price, snatch it up!