The Lord Turned and Looked
April 3, 2023
It’s the low point of Peter’s life. Peter had always been proud of his faith: the first disciple to call Jesus the Messiah, and the first man out of the boat to walk on the water. Not everyone would leave everything to follow a Rabbi for three years! That pride had recently burst forth when Jesus had talked about people deserting him, Peter said, “Not me, Lord! I will go with you to prison and death!” Peter believed his own words! He thought his faith was pure and strong.
But now Peter’s confidence was gone. He had denied his Lord. It hadn’t taken the threat of death and prison; all it took were a couple of fireside questions. As Jesus looked at him, Peter knew the truth. Peter thought his faith was made from courage and love; but it turned out that his faith was really made from a lot of pride, ambition, and desire for reward. Jesus’ gaze went down through Peter’s self-deception, and it showed him the truth of his ragged heart.
Jesus’ gaze does the same to us. When Jesus looks at me, and when Jesus looks at you, he can see down through our big talk to the truth of our ragged hearts. Lent is a season of penitence. That means it’s a season when we ask Jesus to look at us. We open ourselves and, we say, “Search me, God, and know my heart!” Are we ready for His look? What will Jesus see under our surface? What unpleasant things will he expose?
Don’t be afraid. His gaze might knock you to your knees, but ultimately it will lift you up to heaven. Jesus’ look confronts Peter, but that look isn’t all confrontation; at its center it’s a look of love. How much love? Enough love that, despite his failure, Jesus dies for Peter and his ragged heart. He does the same for my heart and yours. So, this lent, open your hearts to Jesus and let him look.
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting. Amen. (from Psalm 139:23)
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