There are all kinds of tears, but I think the worst kind were the bitter tears of regret Peter cried after he disowned Jesus, not once, but three times! And he swore and he cursed (Mark 14:71). “I don’t know this man you’re talking about!”
Then came the “look”! A look can say more than a thousand words. When Peter had called down curses on himself and sworn that he didn’t know Jesus, the rooster crowed (just as the Lord had predicted), and Jesus turned and looked straight at Peter (Luke 22:61).
That was the look! I’m sure a million things went through Peter’s mind, not the least what had happened just hours previous.
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”
Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”
He could never take back the denials, done was done. But there was the look, and only Peter knows what was in it. We can speculate… but let me tell you, Jesus has that look for each one of us. I am sure it was filled with the most love you can see in a look, because that is how he is our Jesus.
I’m sure Peter remembered the time when Jesus borrowed his boat to preach from, and then gave Peter the greatest catch of fish he had ever experienced. That was the time when Peter left everything and followed Jesus (Luke 5:1-11).
I’m sure he remembered the time when Jesus healed his mother-in-law. Some people joke about that and say that was the reason why Peter denied Jesus. Why is it people joke so much about mother-in-laws? Are we that bad?
He must have remembered when Jesus provided the money to pay for his temple tax, how he went down to the lake and found a coin in the first fish he caught (Matthew 17:24-27).
The transfiguration must have stood out clearly in his mind, when Moses and Elijah visited with Jesus on the mount and Peter suggested they stay there and make shelters (Matthew 17:1-8).
What about the time when his brother Andrew brought a little boy to Jesus that had a lunch worthy of a King, the one that Jesus multiplied to feed thousands (John 6:1-13)?
He surely must have remembered the time when he rebuked Jesus, when the Lord had told them about the suffering that awaited him, and Jesus said, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men” (Matthew 16:23).
Before that incident, Peter had confessed Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah.
What else do you thing went through his mind. For sure the time when he walked on water! And here he was, cursing and swearing that he didn’t know the man.
After the “look,” that pierced through his soul, Peter went out and cried bitterly.
So we say, just like with Judas, How could you?
It’s time for soul-searching, because with our actions we many times disown our Lord. Jesus prayed for Peter that his faith may not fail. Jesus is still lovingly interceding for his own. “Christ Jesus, who died–more than that, who was raised to life–is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us” (Romans 8:34).
When Jesus came back to life an angel sent a special greeting to Peter, after telling the women that came to the grave that Jesus was alive, “Go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you’” (Mark 16:7).
I hope these words encourage you. Even when we have to cry bitter tears of regret there are loving arms ready to embrace us. Let the “look” of Jesus’ love penetrate your soul. He loves you more than words can tell.