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 22:6162
Imagine what it would feel like if Jesus had made direct eye contact with you right after you committed the sin for which you are most ashamed. When that very thing happened to Peter, the realization of his own sin caused him to sob with shame and guilt.
In the season of Lent we take the time to look carefully at our own hearts. Peter couldn’t hide his sin from Jesus and neither can we. God sees it all. He knows the darkest corners of our heart and our dirtiest secrets. Even our greatest acts of service are stained with selfish motivations. The realization of our past sins and our ongoing state of sinfulness lead us to cry alongside Peter.
We don’t know the inner turmoil that went on in Peter’s heart after he denied Christ, but we know that Peter raced to the tomb when the women told him that it was empty. We know that he jumped into the water when he saw Jesus on the shore (John 21:7). It seems as though he was desperate to be near Jesus again. The weight of guilt could have stopped Peter from serving the Lord. His shame could have lead him to give up in despair. Instead, his shame led him to the feet of Christ. When he sees Jesus face to face on the shore of Galilee, Jesus doesn’t treat Peter as he deserves. He doesn’t throw Peter’s sin back in his face. He doesn’t return the favor by publicly denying that he knows Peter. Jesus looks him squarely in the face and offers him love, total forgiveness, and complete reconciliation. (John 21:19)
As we begin the Lenten journey of reflection and confession, we may find ourselves weeping bitterly over our sins. But like Peter, may the realization of our sin lead us to the feet of Christ. God sees our worst sins, he knows how we have betrayed him, yet we aren’t treated as we deserve. In Christ we are forgiven. Like Peter, we are looked squarely in the face and offered love, total forgiveness and complete reconciliation.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin. Psalm 32:46