Look upon me, O Lord!

Sacramental Meditation VIII

By John Willison, Practical Works (London: Blackie & Son, 1844), 252-4; minimally edited

“The Lord looked upon Peter—And Peter went out and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:61-62).

LORD, since my looks to thee are so slight, wavering and inconstant, that they make little or no impression upon my hard heart, do thou vouchsafe to look upon me with pity and with power; for thy looks are efficacious, and melt down the hardest heart. O give me such a look as thou gavest to Peter, when he denied thee, and began to curse and swear: a look that may bring me to myself, and cause me to weep, and weep bitterly at the remembrance of my sins, my unbelief, my pride, my passion, my disobedience, which pierced thee my dearest Lord and Saviour. “Look thou upon me, and be merciful unto me” (Psalm 119:132). Christ's look to backsliding Peter was merciful, and full of compassion; his bowels yearned for his poor disciple, when ready to fall into the devil's arms by total and final backsliding, and prevents him speedily. He would not let him lie long in that dismal state he fell into, as it were on the very brink of hell, but presently plucks him back, and recovers him. In like manner, Lord, look on me, and recover me speedily when I fall into sin, lest my next step be into hell.

Christ's look to Peter was a preventing look; he looked on Peter before Peter looked to his Saviour for mercy, and before he looked on himself, or upon his sin, and the danger he was exposed to by it. Glory to my Redeemer that watches over his people, sees and minds their danger when they themselves are little thinking upon it; he is more careful of them than they are of themselves. How marvellous was Christ's love, that would be so concerned about Peter at such a time, when he himself was amidst his bloody enemies, and upon trial for his life? Even then, as it were, he forgets his own danger, and takes notice of the danger of his servant: He, being the great Shepherd of the sheep, ventures all to rescue one of his flock out of “the mouth of the lion, and from the paws of the bear.” O who would not desire to belong to the flock of such a faithful, loving, and compassionate Shepherd?

The look Christ gave Peter was a convincing look; it laid open his sin to him with all its aggravations, which made it very bitter to him. It spoke such language to him as this: “O Peter, what hast thou done? Has thou cast off thy Saviour? And hast thou said, thou knowest not me, who knew thee from the womb, and am going to die for thee? Dost thou not know me that called thee from thy nets, that empowered thee to preach the gospel, and work miracles, that kept thee from sinking in the waters? Am I not he thou sawest shining on Mount Tabor? Even he thou saidst thou would rather die than deny? O for such a convincing look from Christ, that would pierce and melt my heart, and make me weep bitterly, both now and at his table, for my base ingratitude, in disowning and piercing my dear Redeemer!


Christ's look to Peter was a powerful and overcoming look; it conquered his will, loosed him from the world and sin, and made him yield presently to Christ; he was not able to hold out a moment longer, but, like Joseph, seeks a secret place to weep in. O how powerful is a look from Christ! It is sufficient to bow the most stubborn will, and melt the hardest heart; it can turn the rock into standing water, and the flint into a fountain of water,” Psalm 114:8. How powerful was the look he gave to poor Jerusalem, when “lying in their blood;” a look that caused them to live, Ezk 16:6. How powerful was the look he gave to Zacchaeus on the sycamore tree, Luke 19:5. O for such a look as would bring me presently down, in like manner, from the Sycamore of my self-conceit and self-righteousness, and from my best beloved sins and idols, and cause me receive Christ joyfully into my heart, and go with cheerfulness to his table, and receive the seal of his covenant saying, “My Lord, and my God.”

Christ's look to Peter was a peculiar and distinguishing look; the power and grace of God went alongst with it to change Peter's heart, and bring him to his right mind. Christ looked on many thousands that were never the better of it. He looked on Judas after he betrayed him, and when he presumed to kiss him, and reproved him too for his base treachery: but neither that look nor reproof melted his heart. As the beams of the very same sun hardens clay and softens frozen earth; so a look from the same Jesus, the Sun of Righteousness, left Judas hard and impenitent, whilst it softened Peter's heart. The one went on in his villainy, whilst the other relented, and melted into tears. Why? He looked but on the face of Judas, but he looked on the heart of Peter. He looked upon the one with a frowning judicial look but looked upon the other with a recovering and drawing look. Christ's look to Peter was accompanied with the inward influences of his spirit on hrs heart, otherwise it had been ineffectual. Oh, if he would vouchsafe such a gracious look to my frozen heart, and soften it! I would fain bring my hard heart and lay it before this blessed sun, and wait until he draw by the cloud, look through and shine upon it. Lord I tremble to go to thy table with this hard heart, lest thou shouldst look on me with anger, as thou didst upon these, Mark 3:5, upon account of the hardness of their hearts. Lord, I desire to be grieved for my heart-hardness, and to look to thee whom I have pierced by it. Give such a look to my heart as thou gave to Peter's, melt it down into penitential tears, and cause me to go aside “and weep bitterly.”

Christ's look caused Peter to remember and think upon Christ's words to him. It is in and by his word that he works upon sinners’ hearts. O if the Spirit would bring the word to my mind, set it powerfully home upon my conscience, and so give the happy turn to my soul. Lord, help me to lay up thy words, and ponder them in my heart; and O bring them always seasonably to my view, that when I fall I may not lie long under sin, nor continue in a state of backsliding from thee. May I have such a look from thee, as shall look all my idols out of countenance, and look my wandering heart into a right frame for covenanting and communicating work: A look that shall put new life in all my drooping graces, and kindle such a flame of love to Christ in my heart, and of indignation against sin, as all the devils in hell shall never be able to quench. A look that shall make me weep, while I live, for piercing Christ the Lamb.

Oh, shall others shed tears in plenty for sin, and my eyes remain dry? Shall others get their hearts broken, and mine continue hard? Lord, thy grace is free; O how easy were it for thee to melt my heart, and moisten my eyes: one touch of thy hand, nay one look of thy countenance, one cast of thine eye, is sufficient to do it. O turn unto me, and give me one merciful look; for thy ordinance will be lifeless, and lost unto me, if thou look not on me. How can I go to thy table to behold Jesus, my Surety, all red with blood for my red and scarlet-coloured sins, while my heart doth not mourn, nor my eyes run down? Surely the streams of my Saviour's blood deserve to be lamented with tears of blood, and shall I not do it, at least with tears of water? Was he wounded for my transgressions, and shall not my heart bleed, and eyes weep for his wounds given him by my sins? Ω