I’ll never forget the look on her face.
I was five, and we were on a school field trip, an Easter party at a park.
So far it had been a fantastic morning.
Mom was one of the chaperones and, because this was the 70’s and you could do that sort of thing, she piled half the class in the back of our giant blue Chevy Impala station wagon and drove us there.
That car, by the time I finished high school, would be dubbed “The Big Blue Whale.” But practically brand-new in ’75, it was the cream of the mommy-mobiles, with a never-before-seen automatic rear window and door.
Push a button, and both the window and door rolled out of sight. Today, it would be no big deal. Then? It was magic!
And all the little kindergartner mouths dropped open in awe.
Boy, it felt good to be cool!
But all that changed in the matter of seconds.
Other moms came early to hide Easter eggs throughout the park field, and the whole class was jumping up and down for the hunt. Especially me.
The whistle blew, and I took off. I found an egg in the grass. An egg under the bushes. An egg in the little playground jumpy-thing. My basket overflowed, but I was on a quest for more.
Suddenly I noticed my mom kneeling in the middle of the field with another little girl—who had an empty pail. She hadn’t found even one.
Mom gently guided my classmate’s face to the right and pointed to a tree. I followed her finger.
Another egg. Settled in the fork between two branches. I dashed forward and snatched that prize in triumph.
Only to turn to my mom and see her look.
No amazement at my speed and smarts.
Just TOTAL disappointment!
That’s such a sad memory. One I wish I could go back and fix.
I remember for the picnic that followed, my favorite lunch of cottage cheese tasted rotten. Not because it was bad.
But because I knew I was.
I wished there were a button to push so I could roll out of sight.
Ever done something similar? I know one person who felt that way.
Peter. One of Christ’s disciples.
I see so much of myself in him. Having a whole-hearted desire to do what’s right, but constantly tripping over my own feet. And tongue. And hands. And will.
Case in point? Peter got the look.
I don’t know if it would technically be described as disappointment because Jesus wasn’t surprised. But it was the look none-the-less.
And Peter “wept bitterly” (Luke 22:62).
So, what happened…
Peter had made all sorts of claims. Probably felt pretty cool as one of the main three. (“Peter, James, and John”). Promised to follow Christ to death. In trying to defend Him, he even succeeded in pulling a fast one on the High Priest’s slave. (John 18:10)
But when people actually asked Peter if he was Jesus’ disciple? Peter started cursing, saying he didn’t know the man at all.
Probably not a new story to you.
After all, it holds a distinction that only a handful of events can claim. It’s recorded in all four Gospels.
Can you imagine having your mistakes written down for everyone to read? Well, maybe I can. This internet is kind of a public place.
It would seem, though, that both of us were willing for the stories to be told.
One of those four Gospels was written by John who was there at the time. Probably an eyewitness to the denial. (John 18:16)
The other three authors? Almost certainly knew it because Peter told them the story himself.
A horribly sad memory. One that he wished he could go back and fix.
Because just after Peter denied Christ three times and the cock crowed, Luke 22:61 records it. “The Lord turned and looked at Peter.”
And then Peter wept.
I bet for the next three days, he saw that look over and over again in his dreams—if he slept.
Yes, Peter would understand me.
On the face of it, you might think I’m stretching things to compare what I did to Peter’s denial. But remember what Christ said. “You do it unto the least of these, you do it unto Me” (Mt. 25:40, paraphrased).
My shame was totally earned.
Sometimes I wonder how my mom felt—on the other side of that look. Did the memory of her selfish daughter pop up in her mind at different times?
But the real question is, what did Jesus think?
Of Peter. Of me.
We know Christ’s death paid for our sins and His resurrection gave us new life—all we have to do is accept His gift.
But Peter’s denial was the last thing Christ heard him say before He died. That’s got to be a memory God thinks on now and again, right?
His words: Isaiah 43:25, “I am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake. I will not remember your sins.” And Hebrews 8:12, “I will be merciful to their iniquities. I will remember their sins no more.”
But if you’re like me, you’re still scratching your head. How does a God who knows everything, not remember?
How’s this for an incredible picture—one He gave way back when the Israelites were traveling across the wilderness:
He had them build a special box called the Ark of the Covenant. (Yes, like in Indiana Jones, but without the sacrilegious stuff.)
In that Ark, God told Moses to place the Ten Commandments. “Thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, thou shall have no other gods before Me…” You know. All those directives we keep breaking. (On that morning egg hunt, I can think of three that I shattered. Peter? At least two.)
Once they put the lid on the Ark, that’s where God’s Spirit would appear in a cloud. On top.
So if He looked down, what did He see?
All those commandments. Broken. By us.
But once a year (Leviticus 16), the High Priest took the blood from animals and sprinkled it on the Ark. On the lid. Which was aptly called the Mercy Seat.
So NOW when God looked down, He no longer saw the broken commandments.
He saw the blood.
Of course, animals are just animals. In the Old Testament, that sacrifice had to be performed every year.
But when Christ died for us, His own perfect blood covered the Mercy Seat, “securing an eternal redemption.” (Hebrews 9:12)
And that’s why He can forget. His blood sprinkles, covers my brokenness.
What a sweet promise to rest in as my own memories can haunt me. “Everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life” (John 6:40)
Or maybe it’s best to hear it from Peter himself.
“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,…according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with His blood” (1 Peter 1:1, ESV).
With His blood, Christ forgave him. He forgave me.
And He doesn’t look on our sins anymore!
Now, that’s something to make your jaw drop.
This Easter Egg Hunt post talks a lot about Christ’s death.
If you’d like to read more about His resurrection, check this post out:
It came to me unexpectedly–A gift I never expected…