The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered…and he went outside and wept bitterly.
“Peter never thought of turning (in the thick of his sin), but the Lord turned (first). And when Peter would rather have looked anywhere else than at the Lord, the Lord looked at Peter. Only when we come to our Father in response to his waiting look can we be freed and forgiven.” Henry Drummond
Peter’s bitter tears flowed–from predicted personal failure, recognizing his guilt, being caught in the act of doing what he said he would never do, knowing he had turned away and denied his best friend, mentor, and Lord.
What nonverbal message did the Lord send when he turned first with that “waiting look” after Peter had turned away? I doubt it was anger as Peter’s denial was just as predicted so not at all unexpected. I doubt it was condemnatory–Peter feels the heaviness of his guilt without any assistance at all.
I suspect it was just as Drummond suggests: it was a look of sad longing and waiting, a look reflecting rejection and hurt, a look of resignation and acknowledgement of the hard and painful work lying ahead, a look wondering how long it will take the children of God to accept grace and to open the gift of forgiveness they were freely given.
We need to know, even when we turn away, denying and rejecting our relationship with him, he turns to us first with a look of compassion and understanding so we will remember and respond.