“The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter” – Luke 22:61From Dave Atkinson:
One of the things I love about the Bible is, however familiar I think a story or passage might be, there is always something fresh to hear from the Lord; or a reminder of a truth that I may have started to take for granted – even if the reminder is uncomfortable.
I’ve read the accounts leading up to Jesus’ death numerous times but, as I read Luke’s account of Peter’s denial of Jesus earlier this week, I was struck by Jesus’ part.
In John’s gospel, it says that Peter denied Jesus three times and then (as Jesus had predicted) the cock crowed. Both Matthew’s and Mark’s gospels say that, as the cock crowed, Peter, remembering what Jesus had said, “went out and wept bitterly”. And it is those Matthew and Mark accounts that I realised I was most familiar with.
In Luke’s gospel, just after Peter has denied Jesus a third time and the cock has crowed, Luke includes this extra devastating sentence: “The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him……And he went outside and wept bitterly.”
Reading this helped me to realise, more fully, how devastated, and broken Peter was. It was bad enough denying Jesus, not once but three times. It was bad enough that Jesus had said it would happen. It was bad enough that, in his earlier bravado, Peter had boasted he would stand by, even die for, Jesus. But Luke shows that, on top of all that, Jesus saw and heard Peter deny him. The look from Jesus to Peter must have been like a sword through Peter’s heart.
This was a jaw dropping and gut-wrenching moment for me as I read this. I also felt broken – as I felt Jesus looking into the depth of my heart – knowing everything about me – knowing how sinful I am – knowing all the times that I have denied him in one shape or other. Jesus’ gaze burns deep.
Then, in his mercy and grace, the Lord reminded me of what happened after Jesus looked at Peter. Jesus turned away, but not to walk away and abandon or forsake Peter. Rather, Jesus turned away and headed for the cross – where he would save Peter. Where he would save me.
The wrench of Jesus’ burning gaze was replaced by my deep joy and very thankful heart as the immensity of God’s love, mercy, and grace, that saved a wretch like me, hit me afresh.
As you read your Bible today, I wonder what Jesus’ gaze will reveal to you?