We have known people who are persons of few words, but when they do speak, it is with gravity and those who hear their words pay attention.
In the Gospel of John, we read that Jesus, speaking before a crowd of disciples, addresses His Father in heaven, and the voice of almighty God responds in a sound like thunder so that all who are there hear and take heed.
Jesus has been speaking about His coming passion and death and implores His disciples to believe in Him.
As we read the words in John’s gospel, we can feel the passion and urgency in Jesus’ preaching.
Andrew and Philip have brought Him word that a delegation of Greeks want to speak with Him; this appears to be a sign to Jesus, for He says, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified... .”
Indeed the voice of almighty God is that glorification. He describes His coming death, to be lifted up from the earth on the cross, the seed that dies to bring new life.
Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council, has come to Jesus secretly, seeking the truth.
Jesus tells him he must be born again. Nicodemus is bewildered, so Jesus explains he must be born of the Spirit.
Again, He tells of His coming death, lifted up as was the serpent by Moses.
Jesus is speaking of cosmic truths that encompass the universe, and poor Nicodemus cannot comprehend. But the words are recorded for us in the gospel.
Jesus has gotten the attention of the whole Jewish authority, disrupting their market in the Temple and leaving it in chaos.
Cryptically, He foretells His death and His resurrection: “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.”
No one could imagine what He was talking about, but His disciples will remember His words after the resurrection, and their faith will be strengthened.
Throughout John’s account, we hear the powerful words of Jesus proclaiming truths that are not understood, beseeching those who hear to change their hearts.
Those who heard felt the power of His words but were confused. They would not understand until after His death and resurrection.
Obviously, Jesus was not speaking only to those standing before Him; He was speaking across time — He was speaking to us.
Reading Mathew’s chronological account of Jesus’ passion and death, Jesus appears as an ordinary person; accused, condemned, tortured, crucified and buried.
But all of this He foretold, and in His resurrection, God gives life not only to the crucified Jesus but to every word He had proclaimed!
It is the risen Lord Who has been speaking to us through the Gospel of John. His words, God’s Word, proclaimed in human language and more real for us now than even when it was spoken!
As we contemplate these gospels in this Lenten season and prepare ourselves ceremonially to receive the risen Lord, let us take notice of the powerful voice with which God speaks.
It is the truth God intended us to hear.
Mr. Vogel is a member of Cathedral of St. Joseph parish in Jefferson City.