Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Look

Anyone who has ever been a teacher (or a parent) can attest to the power of The Look. Indeed, even those who have only had teachers and parents will be equally willing to admit that there are certain looks given by certain people, the mere memory of which still has the power to shoot a dart of panic down the spine.

A study really could be made not just of what Jesus said while He was on earth, but of certain Looks He gave which have been recorded in Scripture. Particularly, Looks He shared with His disciple Simon Peter.

I have to admit that I was a bit baffled a few minutes ago when I went to the first passage that I planned to write about and found no mention of a Look in it. I've come to the conclusion that when I read the passage on my most recent read-through of the Gospels, I must have added The Look as I dramatized it in my mind.

But take a peek and see if you don't sense it too:
Now when he had left speaking, He said unto Simon, "Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught."

And Simon answering said unto him, "Master, we have toiled all night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at Thy word, I will let down the net."

And when they had this done, they enclosed a great multitude of fish: and their net broke. (Luke 5:4-6)

Now call me imaginative, but I would insert Jesus' look right where the colon sits between nothing and nevertheless. Most people, when the make a statement like Simon's, are trying to talk an authority figure out of the necessity of doing something. They generally make their statement and then trail off, waiting for the other person to change their minds.

"Master, we have toiled all night and taken nothing..."

Here's where Jesus gives him The Look.

You know the Look I mean. It's the same sort of Look I give my 9th graders when they ask me a question, I tell them to read page 72 before asking me again, and they reply that they've "read page 72 already..."

My eyebrow goes up. My lips purse. I can feel my face sort of hardening, becoming as stern and unapproachable as marble. They know what this means. It's... The Look.

From the student will follow a slight roll of the head, a sigh, and then in a resigned, much put-upon tone, "Fine, if you say so. I'll read it again."

Ten seconds later: "Oh, nevermind! It's right here."

That's exactly what I imagine between Jesus and Simon Peter (bless his heart).

Peter: Master, we have toiled all day and taken nothing...

Jesus: *browraise*

(There follows an awkward pause. Other fisherman scuff toes against the deck and pick at fraying nets while Peter stands caught like a deer in the headlights, eyes watering from prolonged contact with The Look.)

Peter: (rushing) ...neverthelessatThywordIwillletdownthenet!

Ten seconds later, we have bursting nets, fish flopping everywhere, and Peter down on his knees in awe of the power of God.

This Look says
...whom do you say that I am?
...have you understood all these things?
...wherefore didst thou doubt?

The second Look is recorded in Luke's gospel, as Jesus was being taken on the night before his Passion to the first of six trials that He would endure before He reached the cross.

All night, He had been agonizing in the Garden of Gethsemane, finally relying on the spiritual strength of a ministering angel whom God sent to comfort Him when His own disciples fell asleep in the crucial moment.

Just hours before, when He had been meeting with the disciples in the upper room, He foretold of their abandonment. How they would all flee in terror and betray Him. Peter most vehemently denied this, claiming that he would rather lay down his life in order to follow Christ, but Jesus replied that before the rooster crowed (the next morning), Peter himself would have denied Jesus three times.

As you know, after Jesus was betrayed by Judas in the garden, He was first taken first to the house of Annas, father-in-law to Caiaphas, the High Priest. And as He is led to the house, Peter followed afar off. You know the story: As he watched, followed, and waited, three times he was asked if he was a follower of Christ, and three times he made hasty denials.

All the times I'd read this narrative in the past, I'd never noticed what transpired immediatly after his third denial:
...And Peter said, "Man, I know not what thou sayest." And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew.

And the Lord turned and looked on Peter.

And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said unto him, "Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice."

And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.

I should think so. Imagine how such a look would pierce.

This Look says
...are you able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of?
...what, could ye not watch with me one hour?
...wherefore didst thou doubt?


Who would be able to stand before such a Look? Frankly, I am surprised Peter did not go out and hang himself the way Judas did. To have had the Lord look at Him at such a time, in such a way... But for the grace of God, I imagine such a Look would have haunted Peter throughout the rest of His days.

If the Lord manifested His physical presence in our lives on a daily basis, what sort of Looks would we have shared with Him over the course of our lives? What sort of Look would He have given us today?

Ah, for an awareness of such a daily presence. For it is indeed there.

* * * *

But for our blunders -- oh, in shame
Before the eyes of Heaven we fall...
Be merciful to me, a fool.
(Edward Rowland Sill)

"Now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face..." (I Cor. 13:13)

No comments:

Post a Comment