“He’s the one in the white robe, the guy in the center of all those people.” Andrew tells Peter while trying to maintain his brother’s pace and pointing toward Jesus.
Peter strides with his usual confidence, pushing through the crowd. His hair is disheveled and his odor, well, let’s just say he’s spent more time fishing than washing! As Peter comes close to Jesus, the Master senses his presence and swings around to see who has come. It’s the first glance that Christ has of this man. But it turns into so much more than a glance! With wide eyes and the most engaging smile imaginable, the Bible says that Jesus “looked intently” at Simon (John 1:42 NLT). The Greek word used in this passage (emplepō) describes more of a gaze than a glance. Peter must have been stalled by this gaze; it won’t be the last time he is the recipient of it. In fact, in Luke 22, this same word is used to describe the look that Jesus gives to Peter in the courtyard just after the rooster crowed. This is a look that cuts right through and engages the truest part of you.
At this first encounter between Jesus and Peter, we don’t know how long their eyes locked on each other, but we do know what Christ said to him:
“You are Simon, the son of John –but you will be called Cephas (which means Peter).” (John 1:42)
Jesus gazes upon an ordinary man in an ordinary town from an ordinary family and an ordinary business, and speaks a prophetic promise that is very out-of-the-ordinary. Cephas wasn’t even a real name. As Jesus gazed through the Simon that everyone else could see, he saw something that the Kingdom needed: a rock solid courage and loyalty that would stand up against the fiercest foe. Jesus spoke to what was possible in this ordinary man.
“In very unlikely souls our Lord perceives qualities of unusual strength and beauty that He sets Himself to draw out, and His first act often is to reveal the fair hidden image and to impute it. He saw Peter in Simon, Israel in Jacob, Paul in Saul—and told them so!” (F. B. Meyer)
Is it possible that Jesus is gazing at you right now?