When Christ was captured in the Garden of Gethsemane, His disciples fled in panic. Apparently, Peter was the first to return and to follow at a distance. After the transference from the place of Annas to that of Caiaphas, John was present also. He was known to the family of the high priest and immediately entered the courtroom, while Peter first remained outside. Then John obtained approval for PeterÕs admission. John ventured to advance as close to Christ as he could. Peter held back in the middle of the court, where a charcoal fire had been lighted to warm the soldiers who were watching the trial.
Peter was ill at ease. Yet he tried to give a relaxed appearance. The one moment he sat down. The next, in an attempt to hide his restlessness, he stood up. Unexpectedly, Peter was confronted by a maid of the high priest. She accused him rather boldly of being one of the disciples of the captured Jesus. Quickly and emphatically, Peter contradicted the womanÕs statement. Why was it necessary to admit his special relationship to His Master? Would that not be foolish and dangerous? Peter walked to the outer court. Outside the crowing of a rooster could be heard. Peter had met his first accuser and returned to the men around the fire. Again he was pointed out as one of the followers of Jesus. Firmly resolved, Peter expressed his second denial and confirmed it with an oath. He wanted to clear himself of any suspicion.
The trial of Jesus continued. The Saviour met with much injustice. The one insult followed the other. The enemies did not refrain from smiting the innocent suffering Saviour. The excitement of the trial turned the attention somewhat away from Peter. After about an hour, the accusers turned again to the restless disciple. ÒSurely,Ó they said, Òthis man is one of them; he was with Jesus.Ó His speech betrayed him. A relative of Malchus, whose ear peter had cut off, recognized him. PeterÕs denial now came in the strongest possible language. The one oath to God followed the other. Then Peter was silent. He heard the roosterÕs second crowing. At that moment, the Lord turned and looked at Peter!
ChristÕs look was a look full of mercy. His compassionate heart yearned for His fallen child. ChristÕs love kept Peter from sinking into endless despair. His eyes spoke a language never spoken by words. In that memorable moment they pierced the innermost depths of the soul of the loving disciple. This look expressed the most powerful love. Bitterly weeping, with tears of shame, Peter rushed out into the dark of night.
Christ looked and Peter remembered! ChristÕs look brought Peter to himself. It caused him to remember the precious intimacy of their relationship: ChristÕs special love to Peter and PeterÕs responding love to Christ. It also reminded Peter of his aggravated transgression. He had pierced the heart of his dearest Lord and Saviour and wounded him more than His enemies. In his pride, he had set aside the serious warnings of the Saviour. The unspoken language of the look was, ÒWhat have you done? Have you disowned Me as your Saviour? Have you declared, you do not know Me, while I am ready to die for you? Have you confirmed your denial with curses and an oath to my Father?Ó What touched Peter most deeply was the memory of ChristÕs love when he had uttered the words, ÒI have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.Ó Nothing is more comforting to the heart of a contrite sinner than to hear from ChristÕs lips, ÒI have prayed for thee.Ó
The SaviourÕs look to Peter was effective. It was accompanied by the distinguishing grace and comfort of the Holy Spirit. Its power loosed him from a world of sin and drew him to Christ as never before. He was not able to withstand it for a moment. Like Joseph, he fled for privacy, and sought a place to weep.
The believers of all ages, who have known their sins to be like PeterÕs or even worse, have ever valued the precious and powerful look of ChristÕs love. With the psalmist, they have prayed, ÒLook Thou upon me, and be merciful unto me, as Thou usest to do unto those that love Thy nameÓ (Psalm 119:132).
How blessed are all who may know this love of Christ in their own experience!