“The Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord.” Of all the stories in the Gospels, this verse (22:61) is the most chilling. When we read this story, Peter’s three-time denial is back to back to back, and it seems odd that he didn’t remember what Jesus had said until the final denial. However, Luke states in verse 51 that “about an hour had passed.” This story unfolds much more slowly than Luke’s 8 verses take to read.
We understand that Jesus’ appearance at these mock trials was a farce. But think about Peter sitting there, listening to the accusations for over an hour. He knows the accusations aren’t true. He was a firsthand witness to all that Jesus did; including, let’s not forget, the Mount of Transfiguration where he saw a glorified Jesus speaking to Moses and Elijah (Luke 9:28-36). If anybody knew how wrong this trial was, it was Peter. And yet, fear overcame all that Peter saw, heard, and even participated in from Jesus.
When he was questioned a third time about his association with Jesus, you can imagine Peter snapping out of a transfixed gaze at the proceedings, with cursing and swearing (as it says in Mark and Matthew), Peter again denied Jesus. That’s when the rooster crowed.
As our passage continues, Jesus is mocked and abused. These men, the religious elite, should have been the first to recognize Jesus as the Messiah, but the missed it. What they didn’t miss was Jesus’ citation of two OT passages—Ps 110:1 (“right hand”) and Dan 7:13 (“Son of Man”). Both passages are Messianic, and blasphemous to the Sanhedrin. They clearly understood what Jesus was saying, which is why they followed it up with the question, “Are You the Son of God, then?”
This question haunts every person in every generation since it was asked. How we answer this question is the most important aspect of our lives. Peter knew the answer to this question—he said so in Matthew 16:16, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And yet, fear squashed this great confession from his lips. With cursing Peter denied Jesus until the rooster crowed. At that moment Jesus looked at Peter, probably with compassion, but maybe with some disappointment.
No matter your view of the end times, we all must hold to the doctrine of imminency—that is, Jesus could return at any second. Instead of a rooster, Jesus will return with a trumpet blast (1 Thess. 4:16). May it not be of us; that when that moment happens it will be said, “The Lord turned and looked at [me]. And [I] remembered the word of the Lord.”
Remembering the Word of the Lord should happen before the rooster crows or the trumpet blasts, it should alter how we live. If we only remember after the sound, it’s too late. Consider today, if Jesus came back and looked at me in this moment, would I be denying Him—with my words (directly or indirectly), with my actions, with my love for the world or the things of the world? Or would He see me today boldly living in the truth that Jesus, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate