Have you ever heard an audible voice from heaven giving you direction? I never have – though I know people who have had that experience. I used to think that if I could just hear God shouting out of the clouds letting me know he was there that I would never doubt again.
We’re going to see from our passage this Sunday that its really not that simple. Well be reading John 12:27-43. This passage includes a supernatural event like I described above, but it certainly doesn’t have the result one would expect.
As we read this passage let’s consider the reactions of the people towards Jesus. I believe there are some pitfalls we can observe and try to sidestep in our own journey to discover more of God and his ways.
For one thing – there were three distinct reactions to the voice from heaven. One, of course, was John who obviously heard the voice of God clearly enough to record for us what the voice said. What were the other two reactions? What do you suppose made the difference in what people heard in that noise? I find it interesting that there is often so much ambiguity when we encounter the divine. I think if a person is determined to do so, he or she can always find a way to rationalize what others perceive as a supernatural event. God seems intent on moving in such a way that he’s easily hidden if someone doesn’t want to see him. I also think there’s a bit of heart-testing in that ambiguity. How open minded are you when it comes to God encounters?
The other thing that I notice in v34-36 is a doctrinal barrier. In v34, the people don’t actually say “the Law says“…what do they say instead? How would you explain their problem with Jesus and the law? How well do you know the doctrines that you hold to absolutely? What are your doctrinal convictions based on – what is written, or what you’ve learned? In what ways could God get obscured by our doctrines. How can we be faithful to our convictions and still be open minded?
Finally, the last verse of this section (v43) is very telling. How can loving the praise or glory that comes from men (that is, the validation and affirmation that we crave so deeply) end up interfering with our loyalty to God? What measures can we take to prevent that from happening in our own experiences?
Should be an interesting study – hope to see you then!