The Disappointed Look

NOT part of this week's Story

3/28/20243 min read

My three grown children will tell you they don’t remember me yelling at them, really. Neither do the thousands of students I’ve taught. It’s not that I don’t get angry, but we all have our own style. Yelling isn’t mine.

“I wish you’d yell more,” my kids started saying about the time they were teenagers. “No yelling in the world could be worse than that disappointed look.”

The other two would agree passionately with whichever of them had said it.

Truth be told, I never intentionally cultivated the “disappointed look.” It must have happened by accident when I gave birth, this ability to apparently wreck a young Garee with a facial expression. I didn’t intend it, but I’m glad they helped me understand its power.

This is the week many of us spend extra time thinking about the final days and hours of Jesus of Nazareth.

So, at the Last Supper, Jesus predicts betrayal. He tells Peter, who is adamant he will stick by Jesus through thick and thin, that instead of sticking close, Peter will deny knowing Jesus three times before the rooster crows. Not a great friend move. After Peter’s third denial, Luke 22:60b-62 says: “Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. 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.’ And he went outside and wept bitterly.”

That’s a really fast summary, but something about that short passage was amplified for me the other day while I was reading a study passage by Lisa-Jo Baker, and I was so grateful. It has to do with Jesus turning and looking at Peter after Peter messed up in exactly the humiliating way Jesus had known he was going to.

According to The Expositor’s Bible Commentary by Longman and Garland, Luke uses the same word for “looked” here at the denial that John used in John 1:42 when Jesus first met Peter and looked at him. In short, this word for look “usually signifies a look of interest, love or concern.”

Whoa. Mind blown.

Before, when visualizing this scene, I always imagined Jesus giving Peter his equivalent of the “disappointed look.” An eye roll would not have been out of order. Then, of course, Peter weeps. An angry eye roll from your bestie is bad enough, but from the Lord?!

Yet, reframing the scene with a look steeped in love and concern changes so much about it. Instead of “Told ya,” it seems Jesus was trying to convey to Peter: “Oh, friend. I know you’re about to feel so lousy, and I really don’t like you feeling lousy because I love you more than you can imagine.” Now, when I picture Peter weeping after meeting the eyes of Jesus, it’s less about getting busted and 100% about still being loved … about the cross before Jesus was nailed to the cross.

About forgiveness and salvation, right?

It’s not a stretch to imagine myself messing up in exactly the way I’m tempted to, and now I have to imagine “a look of interest, love or concern” on the face of the same Savior who laid down his life to pay for all of it. Not a look of disappointment. Not a guilt trip for me to carry to eternity. A look of love.

It makes me want to weep. Bitterly.


I wrote this for my kids and for the students I interact with every day. I guess I’ll be more careful wielding the “disappointed look” from now on because there’s a better example to follow in the face of rotten behavior (except sometimes in the library when all I’ve really got is peering over my glasses and “shushing”).

More importantly, though, when faced with someone we need to forgive, there could be this: Oh, friend. I know you feel so lousy, and I really don’t like you feeling lousy because I love you more than you can imagine.