Hearing the Light
It has often been speculated as to what the Apostle Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” might have been which caused him such difficulties (2 Cor. 12:7-8). Some believe it to have been his eyesight, injured and never to be the same after his “illuminating” incident on the road to Damascus (See: Acts 26:13; Gal. 4:13-15, 6:11 + 17). However, one has to wonder if, with the Apostle Peter, it wasn’t perhaps an acute lack of hearing which led to his having to experience some of the terrible tears and trials he did.
Do you recall the incident right after Jesus washed the apostles’ feet that final night before He was arrested and crucified? After they had sung a hymn and headed out to the Mount of Olives, Jesus informed His disciples that they would all desert Him later on that very evening. He even noted how certain this prediction was to happen by citing scripture and showing this was a prophetic fact. “It is written” He said (see Matt. 26:30-35).
But it was apparently at this point that Peter’s hearing problem kicked in (nor was this the first time we have “heard” of such – Matt. 16:21-23). Despite the fact that Jesus had told them clearly what would happen, and that it would happen both because, and just as, ‘it was written’ in the scriptures, Peter vehemently denied it. In fact, he went on to quite proudly and pridefully put himself forward, apparently thinking that he was either just a little bit better, a little bit stronger, or maybe even a little bit more faithful and devoted to Jesus than the other disciples around him were (vs. 33). Even when Jesus went on to further inform Peter both directly, personally, and specifically, regarding the exact and intimate details of how he would later deny Him (vs. 34), it appears that Peter’s ‘hearing’ problem was still preventing him from truly ‘getting it’ (vs. 35).
Have you ever wondered why Jesus – who had never lost an argument in His entire earthly life – did not go on to further explain to Peter, that which was inevitably going to happen concerning Him? I have. And I believe I know the answer. Jesus, in His godly and all-consuming wisdom, knew that as long as Peter wasn’t listening, there was no sense in His further trying to teach him anything. Perhaps stating that sentiment in our simple modern vernacular (and yes, despite the double negatives): “There ain’t no sense talking if there ain’t no one listening.” Peter was just going to have to learn the hard way. And he did. When He denied the Lord later that night just as the Word – both written and walking – had said He would, He went out and wept bitterly (See Matt. 26:69-75).
As we consider Peter’s apparent “hearing” problem, perhaps we all need to ask ourselves, “How many bitter, needless, and painful tears, trials, and corrections have I been forced to endure, which could have been totally avoided if I had just listened, accepted, and obeyed what, deep down, I knew the word of God said in the first place? And how many times will this obvious truth make itself all too apparent on that fatal and final day, when it will be too late to repent of any such stubborn and/or self-imposed deafness?”
As Jesus was so fond of saying:
“He who has ears…, let him hear…”