Daily Office Reading – Gospel ( John 12:27-36 )
In today’s Gospel, Jesus is still in Jerusalem, just shortly after all the people there had put down the palm fronds in front of his path, and cried out “Hosanna!” as he rode into the city on a donkey. He had just recently raised Lazarus from the dead in Bethany – a sign John calls it – in order to convince people that he was the Messiah. People are now seeking him out, and Jesus predicts his own death. As he is asking the rhetorical question of whether or not he should ask God to take away his suffering, he says, “Father, glorify your name,” and a loud voice from heaven says, “I have both glorified it and I will glorify it again.”
The interesting thing to me is the next two verses. Jesus says that the voice from heaven “came for your sake, not for mine.“
The voice from heaven was intended for the gathered crowd. It was supposed to be another miraculous sign to indicate who Jesus was. And yet some people decided that there was no voice, but what they had heard was just thunder. There was a logical explanation for this noise, and it wasn’t that an angel – let alone God – had spoken to Jesus at that moment.
The sign was there, but these people chose to ignore it. They had already decided who Jesus was or wasn’t, and they were sticking to that decision. The Truth be damned. It was too inconvenient for their preconceived notions.
In the age of Jesus, it’s not like you could dismiss a voice talking from heaven as someone playing tricks on you with a wireless lapel mic and a hidden loudspeaker. That just wasn’t a possibility. So these people had to dismiss the voice from heaven as thunder, even though they heard the voice and what it said. They dismissed the voice as thunder because they did not want to believe, or be confronted with the truth.
How little has changed since Jesus’ time.
Even with all the technological advances we have today, people are still willing to believe what they want to believe despite evidence staring them in the face. We see this most blatantly in the political arena, where supporters of one candidate will tell supporters of the other candidate that they are “ignoring the facts.” But it doesn’t matter whether it’s politics or theology, most people have made up their minds on matters, and too few are willing to seek out the Truth.
Years ago, while still in another denomination, I was having a conversation with someone in the church, discussing the hot-button issue of the day, whatever it was. The issue itself touched upon how we as Christians were to live in this world, and we were discussing the differing options for slotting a Christian response into our worldview. I don’t really remember what the issue was, but rather what was said. In the conversation, I mentioned that I had read the opposing viewpoint’s arguments, and found them to be rather logical, and more importantly, Biblical. Rather than engaging in a discussion about how these arguments might be Biblical, I was told, “Well, that’s your first mistake. You should never listen to what they have to say. Don’t engage them. Don’t talk to them.”
The Truth be damned.
It seems that more and more, the Bible is used as a tool to “prove” a point through carefully selected verses. Rather than reading books or passages in their entirety – and in context – in order to understand the Truth, people are instead searching for ways to bolster their position with what they deem to be the most irrefutable argument of all: the Word of God.
And if the Word of God has become nothing more than a side note in an attempt to win a debate, then the Truth is already damned.
Mike is a jack of all trades, master of none. He’s a data analyst, programmer, and loves to cook. If he doesn’t have his face buried in a book or is staring blankly at a computer screen, you can find him on a motorcycle, enjoying the ride.
Mike holds a Masters of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary.