Once upon a time I was a little boy going off to public school.
We little boys knew what it took to be tough. We knew that if we boxed and wrestled on the playground the principal would suspend us for three days. We knew that home room did not provide time to demonstrate our arm wrestling skills. We were not even permitted to hold thumb-mashing contests in class to show who was tough.
To show that we were tough we little boys still had the good old stare-down contest. You had to lock eyes with the opponent and stare-down the other little boy. The first one to blink lost.
There is an incident in the life of Jesus recorded in all four Gospels, but it is only in the Gospel of Luke that we learn Jesus locked eyes with Peter during the event. Listen to these words from Luke 22: 59 – 62:
About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.” Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re saying! “Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. 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.
When Jesus and Peter locked eyes it wasn’t much of a contest. Peter was looking at Jesus through tear filled eyes as he reflected on his own shame and betrayal. Jesus’ look back was one of unblinking love.
An old hymn writer says, “Turn your eyes on Jesus. Look full in his wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim.” Today as we approach the Lord’s Table we are invited to remember and to look full in Jesus’ face. If we do, we will find him looking back with unblinking love.