MANY HEAR GOD’S VOICE
THE BASIS FOR JUDGMENT
At the temple on Monday, Nisan 10, Jesus is speaking about his approaching death. Concerned about how God’s reputation will be affected, Jesus says: “Father, glorify your name.” A mighty voice from the heavens responds: “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.”
The people nearby are bewildered. Some think that they heard thunder. Others say: “An angel has spoken to him.” (John 12:29) However, it is Jehovah whom they just heard speaking! And this is not the first time that humans have heard God’s voice in connection with Jesus.
Three and a half years earlier, at Jesus’ baptism, John the Baptist heard God say of Jesus: “This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved.” Later, after the Passover of 32 C.E., Jesus was transfigured before James, John, and Peter. Those three men heard God declare: “This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved. Listen to him.” (Matthew 3:17; 17:5) But now, this third time, Jehovah is speaking in a way that many can hear!
Jesus says: “This voice has occurred, not for my sake, but for your sakes.” (John 12:30) It is proof that he truly is God’s Son, the foretold Messiah.
Moreover, Jesus’ faithful life course both exemplifies the way humans should live and confirms that Satan the Devil, the ruler of the world, deserves to be executed. Jesus says: “Now there is a judging of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.” Rather than being a defeat, Jesus’ approaching death will be a victory. How so? He explains: “Yet I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all sorts of men to myself.” (John 12:31, 32) By means of his death on a stake, Jesus will draw others to himself, opening the way to everlasting life.
In response to Jesus’ comment about being “lifted up,” the crowd says: “We heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of man?” (John 12:34) Despite all the evidence, including hearing God’s own voice, most of them do not accept Jesus as the true Son of man, the promised Messiah.
As he has done before, Jesus speaks of himself as “the light.” (John 8:12; 9:5) He urges the crowd: “The light will be among you a little while longer. Walk while you still have the light, so that darkness does not overpower you . . . While you have the light, exercise faith in the light, so that you may become sons of light.” (John 12:35, 36) Then Jesus withdraws, because Nisan 10 is not the day for him to die. Passover Nisan 14 is when he is to be “lifted up”
Looking back on Jesus’ ministry, it is clear that prophecy was being fulfilled when the Jews did not put faith in him. Isaiah foretold that the eyes of people would be blinded and their hearts would be hard so that they would not turn around to be healed. (Isaiah 6:10; John 12:40) Yes, most of the Jews stubbornly reject the evidence that Jesus is their promised Deliverer, the way to life.
Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, and many other rulers “actually put faith” in Jesus. But will they act in faith, or will they hold back, either because they fear being expelled from the synagogue or because they ‘love the glory of men’?
Jesus himself explains what putting faith in him involves: “Whoever puts faith in me puts faith not only in me but also in him who sent me; and whoever sees me sees also the One who sent me.” The truths that God instructed Jesus to teach and that Jesus continues to proclaim are vital, so much so that he can say: “Whoever disregards me and does not receive my sayings has one to judge him. The word that I have spoken is what will judge him on the last day.”
Jesus then concludes: “I have not spoken of my own initiative, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment about what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment means everlasting life.” (John 12:49, 50) Jesus knows that shortly he will pour out his own lifeblood in sacrifice for humans who exercise faith in him.
How did Jehovah use angels and John the Baptist to point to Jesus as the Messiah? How did Jehovah clearly identify his Son as the Messiah?