The look. We have all gotten a look from a mom, dad, or spouse. It is a glance that speaks more words than could be spoken in the time it takes to make it. A look speaks volumes.
The eye witnesses of Jesus considered a few stories of Jesus’ looks worth recording. Apparently, Jesus could give a look that made it’s meaning obvious. In the well-known story of the rich, young ruler, Jesus is said to have looked at him and loved him (Mark 10:21). The next words Jesus spoke were tough and challenging, but something about his look spoke love.
Jesus could also give a look on the other end of the emotional spectrum. Earlier in Mark’s account, Jesus gave a look of anger toward self-righteous religious leaders, more concerned with their rules than a man’s well-being. We are told Jesus “looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts” (Mark 3:5). He didn’t say anything to them, but something about his look spoke anger.
Arguably one of the most mysterious and powerful looks of Jesus is after Peter’s denial. All four gospels record Peter denying Jesus three times. This happened just as Jesus predicted (Mt 26:33-35; Mark 14:29-31; Luke 22:33-34; John 13:36-38). However, Luke is the only writer who mentions Jesus looked at Peter (Matthew 26:73-75; Mark 14:66-72; Luke 22:59-62; John 18:13-27). In fact, the NIV says, “The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter” (Luke 22:61).
What was the look Jesus gave Peter? We aren’t told. We are only given Peter’s internal and external response. Internally, Peter remembered Jesus’ prediction that he would deny Jesus three times before the rooster crowed. Externally, we are told Peter cried convulsively. This wasn’t a boo-hoo type cry. This was the ugly-face-can’t-control-yourself type. Whatever the look, it broke Peter.
We are told to look at Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). The writer is concluding how followers of Jesus are to complete their journey of faith. What are we supposed to look at? Are we to look at what he did? Are we to look at the stories about him? Are we to look at his suffering? The next couple of verses pack in a bunch of different aspects of who Jesus is and what he did (12:3-4). What exactly does it mean to look at Jesus? It could be any of these, all of these, or none of these.
May I suggest another possibility? Perhaps you are to look at Jesus looking at you. If you caught a glance of Jesus’ face, would it speak to you the faith-perfecting, joyful-persevering, shame-scorning, rest-inducing (which is what verses 3-4 express) pleasure of a loving Savior? If not, I think you have the wrong image of Jesus’ face in mind. What look do you imagine on Jesus’ face when he looks at you?