Let's go back to Matthew...
Peter said to him, 'Even if everyone else abandons you, I never will.' Jesus replied to Peter, 'I can guarantee this truth: Before a rooster crows tonight, you will say three times that you don't know me.' Peter told him, 'Even if I have to die with you, I'll never say that I don't know you!' All the other disciples said the same thing. - 26:33-35
Jesus is still talking about His coming crucifixion as they enter Jerusalem to prepare for the Passover. He's talking about the night that is to come, and Peter declares his absolute adherence to the Christ. I'm never running away, he says. I'm here. I'm right here with You through it all. To the end. It's me and You, Jesus.
He can't fathom that Jesus tells him that's not quite the case.
He can't fathom it because in his spirit, Peter means the words he is speaking. He absolutely believes he will be there forever, that there's nothing that could turn him away from Jesus. He probably also thinks that as long as he's with Jesus, nothing bad can happen to him and that this "death" that Jesus speaks of cannot be a literal death or a physical persecution because so far, they haven't seen that in their ministry and if Jesus dies, then how could He fulfill the role of the Messiah? Peter feels like he's probably following Jesus into a holy moment and he's ready to be there to defy the odds.
Even though that's never what Jesus says will happen. Peter is not hearing what He actually says.
Which is why it shouldn't surprise us that Peter doesn't hear what Jesus actually says to him. Jesus is trying to warn him, trying to clue him in on this place in his spirit that the disciple is not even considering at the moment. Jesus is trying to tell him what's going to happen in him while these things that will happen in Christ are also happening, and Peter is both oblivious and defiant. I can't help but wonder what Jesus might have gone on to say if Peter had at all entertained the notion. If Peter had stopped and said, "Wait. What? How am I even capable..." what healing word might Jesus have spoken to a soon-to-be-denying heart?
It's the same for us. So often, we set ourselves up for failure and disappointment by not hearing what Jesus is actually trying to speak into our lives. He tells us what He's doing, and we think He can't possibly mean that in the literal sense. He's the Son of God, for crying out loud! He's got some trick, some secret, some miracle up His sleeve that will make what He's saying not actually what He's saying, that will show the world what He really is. We forget that when He said He was dying, He went to the grave for three long days. We're focused on day 3. We're focused on when He pulls it all back. We forget about the torn curtain, and we look toward the empty tomb. So when He tells us what He's doing, we wait on the turnaround. We wait on the redemption. And we're disappointed when He really dies.
We try to play our faith off this way, trusting in the Sunday when Friday looms over our heads, and He's standing right here telling us what is in us and we don't hear that, either. We don't hear Him telling us we're prone to doubt or denial, that we're stuck in ourselves, that we're missing the love. We don't hear Him say that we could turn our backs. We don't hear Him say that we're missing the mark. Because in our hearts, we mean every word. We have no intention. Yet He's trying to warn us.
Then inevitably it happens, just as He said it would, and the rooster crows and we realize we missed that in the mirror. We didn't even see it in ourselves. And...we remember the moment He tried to tell us. But now, it's too late. The haunting memory we have is of the moment that Jesus knew this would happen and we didn't heed His warning, and now here we are, total failures, disappointed in ourselves, and wondering if He might have said more had we had the courage to pause for just a second and say, "Wait. What?..."
Like Peter, we want to stand bold in our faith and we want to believe the best of ourselves, but sometimes...God is trying to tell you something that maybe sounds disappointing today but might keep you from future heartache. He might tell you something today that preserves your tomorrow if only you're willing to listen...both to what He's doing and to what He's doing in you. It's crucial.
So from Judas, we learn to ask, knowing, so that God's truth can convict us and create a changing moment. A few verses later, Peter shows us to listen, not knowing, so that God's truth can comfort us and create a changing moment. The answer, then, whether you know or do not know, is to let God speak...and hear His word.