Tag Archives: Luke 22

The Look

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.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.
Luke 22:61-62 (NIV)

As a child, I had a healthy conscience. If I had done something wrong, it weighed on my heart like the proverbial millstone Jesus referenced as just punishment for causing a little one to stumble. Looking back, it’s fascinating for me to think about the things that sent me into attacks of shame and the the things I could convince myself weren’t “that bad.”

It starts at such an early age, doesn’t it? The mental gymnastics of moral justice: What’s bad? What’s very bad? What’s not a big deal (if you can get away with it)? What sins weigh heavier on the scales of justice within the family system, the school system, the neighborhood system, and the peer group system?

It was fascinating for me to become a father and observe just how opposite two children with the same genes can be within the same family system. One daughter’s conscience was impregnable. She always pled “not guilty” no matter how red-handed she might have been caught. She remained stoically resolute, stuck with her plea, and quickly appealed any parental verdict as prosecutorial overreach and abuse of power. At times it was comical, at other times it was maddening.

With the other daughter, all it took was a look. A look of condemnation, or worse yet – a look of disappointment. Her little spirit wilted. Tears flowed. If nature helps to determine temperament, then I’m pretty certain she got that from me. Oh, that parenting could always be as easy as a look.

The look. That’s what struck me in today’s chapter. I find it fascinating that Luke included this little detail. Peter utters his third denial and immediately the rooster crows. With that audio cue, Jesus turns and looks directly at Peter. The denial, the rooster, the look. The weight of his denial, his sin, and the hollow emptiness of his emphatic assurance to be imprisoned and die with Jesus all come crashing down on Peter in a moment. He runs. He weeps bitterly.

As a child with a healthy conscience, it’s easy for me to feel that weight. I identify with Peter.

Me, too, dude,” my spirit whispers to the weeping, shamed, unworthy Simon. I totally identify with Peter at that moment; The seemingly ill-chosen ”Rock” and ”Keeper of the Keys.” By default, I ‘m ready to sit down with Peter and have a shame-induced pity party.

But, there’s something else I noticed in today’s chapter: Jesus knew. Jesus not only saw Peter’s impending denial and failure to follow-through on his assurances, but He also saw past the failure to the sorrow, repentance, and restoration. Jesus’ perceived that Peter’s fall would ultimately help mold him into a more solid, humble, and capable leader. Much in the same way that, as a father, I knew that one daughter’s tender spirit was going to develop into a heart of compassion that God would use in one way, and that God would use my other daughter’s strength of will and resolution for different but just as meaningful purposes.

In the quiet this morning I find the realization that I’m quick to sit and wallow with Peter in the failure and shame. This, however, means that I am slow to accept God’s perfect knowledge of me, my shortcomings, my failures, my heart of repentance, my restoration, and all that He is molding me to be for His Kingdom purposes. Embracing the former without embracing the latter is to accept an incomplete reality: Jesus remains very disappointed in me and I remain shamed and self-condemned. Within days, the resurrected Christ would stand on a beach graciously prompting from Peter three “I love you’s” to replace the three ”I don’t know Him’s.” Peter remains on course for the journey of love, faith, leadership, transformation and sacrifice to which he’d been called from the beginning.

It’s so easy for me to see “the look” of Jesus as one of a disappointment. But just as I could “look” at my daughters and see beyond their momentary infractions to the amazing individuals they would grow to be, “the look” of Jesus always sees beyond my failure to the fullness of all I am and will be in Him.

Have you missed the previous chapter-a-day posts from this journey through the Gospel of Luke? Click on this image and it will take you to a quick index of the other posts!

Pondering Betrayal

caravaggio-judas-kiss-taking-of-christ

And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. They were delighted and agreed to give him money. He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present. Luke 22:4-5 (NIV)

This morning’s chapter is so full of intriguing details that I feel I could spend the entire day digging deeply into the text and the story. The tidbit that seemed to stir the most thought, however, was Judas’ betrayal.

The traitor is such an archetype in literature and film. I can think of several off the top of my head:

  • Iago (Othello)
  • Macbeth (Macbeth)
  • Saruman (Lord of the Rings)
  • Grima Wormtongue (Lord of the Rings)
  • Edmund (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe)
  • Peter Pettigrew a.k.a. Wormtail (Harry Potter)
  • Fredo (The Godfather II)
  • Lando Calrissian (Star Wars Episode V)
  • Cypher (The Matrix)

Betrayal is a part of life and I daresay every one of us has experienced some kind of personal betrayal whether it be on the schoolyard playground, our place of work, our family, our church, or the intimacies of courtship, love, and/or marriage. By the same token, I doubt any one of us can claim to be completely innocent of betrayal through the course of our entire life journeys. Human frailties are universal, relationships get messy, and we hurt one another.

There is a betrayal, however, that I believe goes deeper than mere human frailty and self-seeking. Evil exists, and that evil contrives, contorts and manipulates to upend that which is good and life giving in order to replace it with chaos and death. At times our human weaknesses serve darker powers.

Which leads me to thinking about Judas this morning. He had been present with Jesus and the boys for three years. He saw the lame walk, the blind see, and the hungry fed. He heard Jesus’ teaching the same as the rest. Judas watched Jesus loving sinners and speaking out against the hypocrisy and greed of the religious leaders. He witnessed Lazarus raised to life and shuffling out of his tomb still wrapped tightly in his grave clothes.

So what didn’t Judas get that the other eleven did?

The other eleven disciples would spend the rest of their lives bearing witness that Jesus’ was the resurrected Son of God. Ten of those eleven would die brutal deaths because of it (tradition holds that John was the only disciple to die of natural causes). But Judas could never see it. Not only did he not get it, but Judas wasn’t content to merely put in his notice and walk away. There was something deep inside Judas that drove him to betray Jesus to His death…for money. Was it anger? Envy? Spite? Greed? Judas makes for a fascinating character study.

This morning I am thinking about betrayal. I beg forgiveness for the many betrayals I have committed along my journey, and I am choosing to forgive those who have betrayed me. I also find in my heart this morning the desire to seek out all that is good and right and life giving that it might shine the Light into my soul and reveal any seed in me that might ultimately take root lead me down the dark path to further betrayal.

Chapter-a-Day Luke 22

Miniature from Chludov Psalter. Saint Peter an...
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At that very moment, the last word hardly off [Peter’s] lips, a rooster crowed. Just then, the Master turned and looked at Peter. Luke 22:61 (MSG)

As a child you come to know “the look.” As a parent you naturally learn to give it. “The look” is the most powerful tool of silent and deserved verdict. No words are necessary; No pious lectures required. You are caught red handed and you know it. You stand naked and alone in your shame. You are guilty as charged yet no one need utter the word.

There is just the look, and the unspoken truth of my own actions inscribes itself on my soul.

“I’ve disappointed the ones I care about.”
“I blew it.”
“I failed God, myself, and others I loved.”
“Sinner. Liar. Oathbreaker.”
“Unworthy.”
“Untrusting.”
“Unbelieving.”
“Prodigal.”

A picture may paint a thousand words, but ‘the look’ pierces the heart with ten thousand in a second. I would much rather have the angry diatribe. Scream at me. Yell at me. Give me the lecture. Just stop looking at me like that.

With one look, I feel the entire weight of my guilt and shame.

With that look, I find myself at the crossroads.

Which way will I turn?

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