“Come and have breakfast.”
When we were kids we called them ‘fraidy-cats’, ‘wimps’ or ‘yellow-bellied”. I suppose in the adult world you would hear them described as ‘gutless’, ‘wuss’ or ‘faint-of-heart’. These are words that would describe someone who faced a crisis in their lives but lacked the courage to do the right thing. These are words that would describe Peter as he stood in the court where Christ was bound and falsely accused. Peter heard the rooster crow as he denied Christ a third time.
Have you ever hated yourself for your failures? Peter delved into a period of self-loathing. He ran from the court and sobbed, the kind of sobbing that causes one’s body to shake and heave. The kind of sobbing that brings a torrent of tears and causes one to gasp for air.
That last, long penetrating look that Jesus gave Peter must have haunted him in the lonely nights that lay ahead. If he had seen what he expected to see maybe he wouldn’t have been so troubled. If he had seen anger, if he had seen disappointment, if he had seen disgust…but he didn’t see any of those things. He saw only unconditional love. In his fear, in his most cowardly moment, when presented with the opportunity to stand with Jesus, he had failed miserably. Jesus’ eyes were compassionate, they were forgiving, they were tender. They communicated better than a spoken voice and they tenderly revealed to Peter that in spite of his cowardice, forgiveness was available.
I believe Jesus was communicating to Peter that it was for this moment of weakness in his life, this moment of fear and faithlessness, that he was going to the cross. His eyes said to Peter, “I am shackled here for you. The sweat on my brow and the blood dripping from my chin is for you. I still love you, Peter. I’ve invested so much in you. You may feel like I’ve let you go… but I haven’t. Indeed, my sacrifice will enable you to have courage in your weakest moments.”
We feel so unlovely in when the darkness invades our souls. He sees us when we are feeling most miserable. He sees us when we feel overwhelmed by despair and confusion. He sees us when we are floundering about in a sea of sin and addiction and he loves us still!
“Peter”, the eyes of Christ said, “I see how disappointed you are. I see that sin has defeated you once again. I’m going to take that sin upon my shoulders and bear it for you to the cross. I’m going to make it possible for you to be free from your sin.”
Jesus didn’t reprimand him. Jesus didn’t fuss at him. Jesus crushed Peter’s stony heart with a hammer of love. That love penetrated Peter that day in the court like a powerful spotlight, revealing the true nature of his heart.
Peter returned to his previous occupation, fishing. Days of brooding and disappointment finally ended when he and his companions saw a man walking on the shore.
The custom in those days was to invite an enemy to a meal to hash out
differences. “Friends, have you any fish?” The man asked from the lake’s shore. When Peter realized it was Jesus he dove into the water and swum to shore. “Come and have breakfast”, Jesus said.