27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” (John 12:27-29 ESV)
The words of a man who is about to die can be some of the most profound that he will ever speak. Our Lord Jesus spoke many deep things about the nature of the kingdom of God, eternal life, and how his followers were to treat each other, yet the words spoken at this particular moment are among the most significant that our Lord and Savior ever uttered. And if their significance was initially unnoticed, God the Father himself echoed the steeled purpose behind the words of the Son of God.
There are only three instances in the life of Jesus in which the Father speaks from heaven. At Jesus’ baptism, the Father declares Jesus to be his beloved Son with whom he is well-pleased (Matt 3:17) and inaugurates his earth-shaking ministry. At the Transfiguration, the veil of human flesh is peeled back for a moment and the earthly eyes of the disciples looked upon the blinding glory of Jesus Christ that was his from before the foundation of the world. The Father then speaks for a second time, declaring Christ to be his beloved Son with whom he is well pleased once again, exhorting his disciples to “listen to him.” The final time that the Father speaks is here. As the Son pours out the anguish in his own soul but sets his face towards the cross with the knowledge that it was for this very purpose that the Lamb of God came into the world, the Father speaks one final time.
The mighty plan of salvation will require an immense sacrifice that has no parallel and will never have any parallel in human history. And the reason that Christ willingly went to the cross was to glorify the Father’s name. The living Word of the Father declared from the vault of the heavens was our omnipotent God’s confirmation of his infinitely glorious masterplan to redeem the human race from the eternal wages of sin and death in the fires of hell.
But despite how pivotal and magnificent of a moment the third and final utterance of the Father was in salvation history, there were many who heard but did not hear. Many heard the everlasting Father’s very own voice echo from the skies above, and yet many heard nothing but thunder. Many heard the words of the living God himself—words confirming the glorious purpose for which the Son of God came into the world—yet all they could hear was a loud, but otherwise ordinary boom of a thunderstorm.
How shocking this is! How unfathomable! To think that the God of the universe SPOKE in an intelligible, stentorian voice, from his royal dais in the heavens, to a large crowd about the grandest work to ever be accomplished and yet many did NOT hear him!
Jesus was absolutely right when he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father (Joh 6:65 ESV).” And when Peter made his confession that Jesus was indeed the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus also rightly exclaimed, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.” (Matt 16:17 ESV)
Brothers and sisters, let us never forget that the only reason we can hear the Word of God is because God gave us ears to hear. If he were not merciful to us, the reading of the Holy Scriptures would be no different from reading a fiction novel or a textbook. Instead of hearing the voice of the Good Shepherd speaking words of eternal life from the sacred writings, we would only hear the voice of some common mortal clamoring for our attention in an ordinary book. We would find no encouragement in our daily devotionals. We would never feel the comfort of God’s voice from his Word in the midst of the trials of life. We would find nothing for our souls to rejoice over if the Scriptures were only the common thunder of man and not the living oracles of God himself.
We have indeed been given a precious treasure in God’s Word, but we must also praise God that he gave us ears to HEAR his precious Word. What a great gift it is to have been given the knowledge of the secrets of heaven (Matt 13:11) and to hear the voice of the living God leading to eternal life. And for this undeserved gift of mercy, we give him the highest praise.