But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” Immediately, while he was still speaking, a rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, “Before a rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.
Now the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking Him and beating Him, and they blindfolded Him and were asking Him, saying, “Prophesy, who is the one who hit You?” And they were saying many other things against Him, blaspheming. (Luke 22:60-65 NASB)
Only in Luke does Jesus look directly at Peter when the rooster crows. It’s probably a literary device for heightened dramatic effect. But it’s also inspired Scripture. To ask if Jesus did or didn’t misses the point. The point is made in the combination of verses 31 through 34 with these verses. Yes, Jesus predicted Peter’s denial. But He also prayed for Peter’s faith, that he would return and strengthen his brothers. Left by itself, without the additional context of verses 31 through 34, this can seem to be Jesus’ accusing stare. But with the context it can be better understood as Jesus’ understanding and encouraging stare.
Peter had wandered away from his intent in the courtyard. He had been sifted like wheat. It was brutal. It was a testing few of us have had to endure with such stakes. Arguments can be made that he didn’t have the Holy Spirit at the time; Peter didn’t have the death, burial, and resurrection to bolster his understanding at the time; or whatever we can come up with to explain Peter’s struggle in the courtyard. Whatever our explanation, the truth is that he failed to acknowledge his relationship with Jesus, and so have we. The additional truth is that Jesus already saw that part, but looked forward to Peter’s return, and so He does with us.
What I gain from this is a view of something my Master has given me as a purpose. He has told me that I am to wait, worship, and walk before Him. Part of the truth of that third element is that, when I too fail, my Master looks right at me. When I fail, my Master locks eyes with me. He doesn’t turn away. He doesn’t ignore what I did. He doesn’t point a finger, but looks into my eyes, the windows of my soul. And I believe He acknowledges that it’s time for the next step, returning. His look is not accusatory, not a look of disappointment, not a look of disdain or rejection. His look is one of understanding and invitation. It’s time to return. This is part of “walking before Him”, not that I won’t fail as I do, but that as I fail in in His presence, He calls me back.
Peter remembers his Master predicting his failure. He leaves and weeps bitterly. But he returns. In the moment, it’s not about his return. In the moment the rooster crows, and Jesus looks into his eyes, all Peter can think of is his failure. He was sifted and found lacking. The accuser shouts in his head that he failed, and is not worthy to even follow Jesus, perhaps even that what’s happening to Jesus is somehow Peter’s fault. He weeps bitterly. Judas will feel remorse and weep bitterly, but from there the paths diverge. Peter returns and strengthens his brothers. Judas does not. Both betrayed Jesus in a sense. But only one returned.
Feel the stare of Jesus. Look into His eyes. When you fail, stumble, or fall, what will you do? Will you look into the eyes of Jesus and think only of your failure? Or will you hear His voice calling you back, and when you have returned, strengthen your family of fellow believers? It’s okay that your failure distracts you and to weep bitterly. But don’t let it consume you. Your Master calls you back. We need your strengthening.
I was going to go on about how ironic it was for the guards to ask Jesus to prophesy who hit Him. He had just had a recent prediction come to completion with Peter’s denial. But this sort of wrote itself. It was ironic. I’ll leave it at that. Now, Jesus is calling you back. What will you do?
What’s your view of Jesus through your knothole?