“To the one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.”
(Thomas Aquinas, 13th century)
The apostle John recorded a moment of struggle on the edge of Passion week (John 12:27-30). Jesus had been teaching in the temple courts, less than five days before the crucifixion. He was deeply troubled in spirit. Bracing himself for what was to come, Jesus called out to the Father to glorify himself in the revealed plan of redemption. A voice responded from heaven “I have glorified it (my name), and I will glorify it again.”
There were at least three groups of people within earshot. Some thought they heard thunder. Some heard the voice of an angel. John understood this was God speaking, what He said and why He said it.
Some of the listeners that day were followers. They didn’t understand everything about Jesus, but were willing to sacrifice to be where He was. Listening to His teaching, they were being transformed. John was in this group. John knew the voice was God the Father, voicing approval of His Son and His plan.
Belief opens your eyes. You can see God and hear His voice.
A second group who heard the voice from heaven and attributed it to an angel. They understood the words but not their purpose. Maybe these were God-fearing Jews who were drawn by the crowd, knowing nothing about the young man whose taut face was turned upward to heaven.
There is this place of curiosity, yearning for more. In this South Florida church-planting endeavor, we long to meet those who are unfulfilled with what our culture offers. People who hear a voice and even understand the words, yet don’t know the identity of the source of life and hope.
The third group heard thunder. Many scribes and Pharisees knew exactly who Jesus was. He was a poor man from a no-name town promoting an ideology which threatened the temple system. His words angered them. Their goal was to stop his teaching, even end his life. Yes, there was a storm coming. Thunder rolled in the distance, impending doom.
You don’t have to believe. If you choose not to believe, you’ll find a simple and natural explanation for the world around you. Instead of the voice of God speaking from the heavens, glorifying His name – you’ll hear thunder.
Let me take you to a tomb with a dead body inside, huddled mourners outside. Jesus wept at the tomb. He asked for the stone to be rolled away. Martha said what everyone was thinking – “but Lord, he stinketh”. Jesus response: “If you believe, you will see the glory of God”.
Do you want to see the glory?