The Look of Jesus

Peter answered, ‘Man, I don’t know what you are talking about!’ At once, while he was still speaking, a rooster crowed. The Lord turned around and looked straight at Peter, and Peter remembered that the Lord had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows tonight, you will say three times that you do not know me.’ Peter went out and wept bitterly. Luke 22:60-62

At the Lord’s last supper, Peter boldly affirms that he is ready to go to prison and even die with Christ. However, Jesus answers him, “The rooster will not crow tonight until you have said three times that you do not know me,” Luke 22:34. At that moment Peter’s faith is so strong that he speaks loudly and confidently and affirms that he would never let the Lord down.

He would do anything not to separate himself from Jesus, after all these disciples have given their lives for this mission and knowing that Jesus was going to leave them must have caused great fear among them, the fear of loneliness and misdirection. What would they do later on? People used to respect them because of Jesus.  He was the one after all who did all the great things. That’s why Jesus says to Peter, “But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith will not fail. And when you turn back to me, you must strengthen your brothers,” Luke 22:34. Jesus knew exactly what each disciple was thinking and mostly fearing.

Indeed, most of us are sometimes too hasty to affirm things, mostly when it comes to clearly proclaiming Christ’s authority over us. Unless we are wary and always praying, we may be drawn in the course of the day into those sins which we were in the morning most resolved against. We can understand Peter. I’m sure most of us have been in the same situation. He went into the courtyard where Jesus was taken, where everyone was waiting for Christ to be condemned to death.  It was nowhere a follower of Christ should have been at that time. Everyone despised the Lord and awaited eagerly for His execution. And here comes someone pointing at Peter and saying with so much assurance, “There isn’t any doubt that this man was with Jesus, because he also is a Galilean!” Luke 22:59. What do you expect Peter to say exactly at this point? “Yes, I know Him, I am His follower”, and afterwards be mocked and beaten up? Here, we can only imagine how Peter must have been scared, and he answers the way all of us in that situation would have said, I guess, “Man, I don’t know what you are talking about!” Luke 22:60. And the rooster crows. What a tragic moment this must have been, for he immediately remembers what the Lord had said during supper, just a few hours ago.

This scene is just about to get worse.  “The Lord turned around and looked straight at Peter,” Luke 22:61. He had betrayed the Lord, and just at that moment, Jesus appeared and for a brief moment looked at Peter, straight in the eyes. I’m sure for Peter that lasted for more than just a simple moment.  He then remembered what Jesus had told him over dinner, “Before the rooster crows tonight, you will say three times that you do not know me”. That look isn’t just a simple one, it said so much, it meant so much.  Let’s go deeper into it.

First, the Lord turned to Him as if to say, “Peter, do you not recognize me?” Indeed, at so many points in our lives we come not to know Christ.  This could be for many reasons.  We are ashamed to pass for a weak person in front of people, may they be our friends or others. However, Jesus did not forget you or me while on the cross, did He? It could have been much easier to say, “Well, I don’t want to die for humanity.  It was after all their fault.  They should not have separated from God.” And he could have easily escaped death by calling His angels to help him. Let us not forget what Christ said, “Whoever rejects me publicly, the Son of Man will also reject him before the angels of God,” Luke 12:9.

Second, we can just imagine the pain on Jesus’ face when we sin. Each time we deny him, Jesus gives us that look.

Third, it was as if to say to Peter, “Peter, you were the first to proclaim me as the Messiah.  How dare you turn against me this quickly?” It’s the same with us.  We are so quick to proclaim Christ and to confess Christ as our Savior, Teacher, Healer in our churches, but in reality how fast are we to confess it in front of others, in times of distress, fear and danger? How fast are we exactly to proclaim His greatness in a non-believing, hostile environment? Unfortunately, we are sometimes too slow and quite often, unable.

Fourth, we can picture that it could as well be a compassionate look, reminding Peter that he had prayed for him, that his faith will not fail. He tells him to be strong, and that he still has a mission to accomplish: he will be the foundation on which Christ will build His church. As if he was telling Peter, “How will you stand up and be a Man of Christ if I do not help you?” Indeed, it reminds us of the time when the disciples asked Jesus, “Who, then, can be saved?” Matthew 19:25, losing hope that this may be impossible. And Jesus confirms their feeling that they could not reach that point, saying, “This is impossible for man, but for God everything is possible,” Matthew 19:27. Our Journey of Faith can only be accomplished with Christ’s divine intervention.

Fifth, it’s a look that challenges us to go and think for ourselves, to question ourselves day and night. That’s what we should do to keep our path straight before us; otherwise, we will lose our way so easily in today’s world.

Sixth, and most important of all, the look signified the conveying of grace to Peter’s heart, to enable him to repent.  The Grace of God works in and by the Word of God.  It gives a happy turn to the heart and soul of Man, telling us that with what He has done for us we can and should repent and turn to Him.

Yes, Christ stared at the high priests when they confronted Him, and you could say, “Then, why didn’t the men in authority turn to Christ when he stared at them?” The difference is that Jesus stared at the chief priests with a mere look, but it was with divine grace that He looked into Peter’s eyes and that helped Peter to repent; otherwise, probably Peter would have ended exactly like Judas.

Jesus calls us today to repent.  He stares at us, not like any other person would look at us, but he stares with divine grace, telling us, “I have done what you couldn’t have done on your own.  You are because I AM.”

Vahé Jébéjian