By Stuart Powell
After an offending action or word, we all likely have been on the receiving end of “the look” from someone we cherish. The eye contact transports us to an earlier conversation or argument, and it is intended to bring in us conviction, repentance, and recommitment.
That is what happened in the early morning darkness after Jesus’ arrest. Luke described how Peter followed the mob who took Jesus captive. They ended up in the courtyard of the high priest’s house. Three times, while Peter watched and waited, he was asked if he was part of Jesus’ group. He denied it each time. Luke described the third denial—and what happened immediately afterward—this way:
Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times” (Luke 22:60-61).
The sound of Peter’s words of betrayal were still in the air when the rooster crowed. The bird’s call caught their attention. While Peter witnessed the abuse of his Rabbi, Jesus kept track of Peter. The rooster was the trigger God used to reconnect them. Jesus’ look took Peter back a few hours to the Passover meal. Jesus’ eyes convicted Peter of his disciple’s failure, shattered Peter’s heart, and sent him out into the darkness in tears.
Were the two men close enough for Jesus to see Peter’s eyes well up? What broke their connection, Peter’s shame or a guard’s fist? Thankfully, Jesus still trusted in God’s plan. Peter betrayed his Lord, but Jesus remained focused on the sacrifice before him. Jesus continued his walk to the cross to complete God’s plan of restoring Peter and potentially every other person who was deserving of such a divine “look.”
We are tempted to follow Peter’s pattern and focus on our failure. As we eat and drink, remember that Jesus knows our failures as clearly as he knew Peter’s. Don’t linger too long on your weakness. Instead, remain focused on Jesus’ promises of the salvation he purchased for us. That is the message the bread and cup should bring to mind.
Stuart Powell lives outside of Terre Haute, Indiana, where he serves with the North Side Christian Church.