“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.’ 62 And he went outside and wept bitterly” Luke 22:61-62).

Every person at some time in his life has fallen. And who of us can fail to shudder at the tale of Peter’s guilt? When we read the story for ourselves, we feel an almost unconscious sympathy with Peter, as if his story happened in our own lives. And we know, these same well-worn steps have been traced ever since then by every human foot. Anyone who possesses an inner history can surely understand how Peter could have slept in the garden, when he should have watched and prayed.

We, too, have been out of step with Christ. Those of us who know the heart’s deceit would surely find it difficult to judge this man—this man who had lived so long in the inner circle of fellowship with Christ. We understand how he could have turned his back upon his Lord. Such things, alas, are not strange to those of us who know the appalling tragedy of sin.

But there is something in Peter’s life that is much greater than his sin. It is his repentance. We all too easily relate to Peter in his sin, but few of us grasp the wonder of his repentance. His fall is a lesson in sin that requires no teacher, but his repentance is a great lesson in salvation.

What can we learn from Peter’s turning around? First, it was not Peter who turned. It was the Lord who turned and looked at Peter. When the cock crowed, that might have kept Peter from falling further. But he was just in the very act of sin. And when a person is in the thick of his sin, his last thought is to throw down his arms and repent. So Peter never thought of turning, but the Lord turned. And when Peter would rather have looked anywhere else than at the Lord, the Lord looked at Peter. This scarce-noticed fact is the only sermon needed to anyone who sins: the Lord turns first.

Adapted from Bread and Wine (Henry Drummond)