By David Faust
Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? “Father, save me from this hour”? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name (John 12:27, 28).
It shows Jesus practiced what he preached. He not only told his disciples to pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” (Matthew 6:9); he honored the Father’s name himself.
The prayer also reveals Jesus’ courage. He refused to say, “Father, save me from this hour.” He was determined to accomplish God’s will even though his heart was already troubled as the agony of Gethsemane and the misery of Calvary drew near.
But the most interesting fact about Jesus’ prayer is the way it was answered. Immediately the Father spoke from Heaven and said, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again” (John 12:28). The voice of God resounded audibly from the sky!
Such divine vocalizations are rare in Scripture, occurring most notably at defining moments in Jesus’ ministry. At his baptism, the voice said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). On the mountain when Jesus was transfigured, the Father verbalized his affirmation again and added, “Listen to him!” (Matthew 17:5).
It wasn’t that Jesus needed reassurance. “This voice was for your benefit, not mine,” Jesus said. He explained that soon he would be “lifted up from the earth” in a violent death on the cross (John 12:30-33), and his disciples would need all the assurance they could find to keep believing in him during those dark hours.
The Crowd’s Reaction
When God’s voice boomed directly from the sky, you would think everyone would have been thrilled and skeptics convinced. However, the startled crowd began to search for alternative explanations. Some “said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him” (v. 29).
How would you have reacted if you had been in the crowd that day? Some of the bystanders looked for a naturalistic explanation (thunder). Instead of hearing the voice of God, they simply thought it was going to rain. Others came up with a flawed supernatural interpretation (an angel’s voice).
Likewise, many today struggle to hear God’s voice amid the stormy rumblings of the 21st century. Some opt for naturalistic explanations, explaining away everything from the creation of the universe to human freedom as the product of nature alone. Others are fascinated with angels and vague spirituality, but refuse to recognize Jesus as Lord.
If we are listening, today we can hear God’s Word with unprecedented freedom and convenience. It’s proclaimed from pulpits, broadcast on radio and television, pressed poetically upon our hearts through music, made available in print by Christian publishers and bookstores, and spread abroad through the Internet. Bibles have been published by the billions. And in addition to the written Word, the heavens still “declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1).
God still speaks. The living Word, Jesus Christ, came to make his plan of salvation clear. The written Word tells us about God’s love and grace, his purpose and power. But hearing the Word isn’t enough. Do we obey it, or try to explain it away?
Do we hear God’s voice, or do we just say it thundered?
1. What message has God impressed upon your heart recently?
2. When it’s clear God has spoken, how do you respond?
David Faust is president of Cincinnati Christian University, Cincinnati, Ohio, and past Executive Editor of The Lookout.
The Lookout’s Bible Reading Plan for November 24, 2013
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of The Lookout.
1 John 4:1–6
1 John 4:7–21
1 John 5:1–12
1 John 5:13–21
Daniel 1, 2
2 John 1–13
Daniel 3, 4
3 John 1–14
Daniel 5, 6