“The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.” (John 12:29–30, ESV)
Jesus had just said how His soul troubled as He looked ahead to the hour which had arrived—the time for which He had come, the time for which man’s hands were previously restrained from taking action against Him. He had arrived in Jerusalem to an overwhelming reception, and now He was in the final week. Having gone this far He knew that even at this point He was not about to turn away, but was committed to doing that for which He was sent. As He spoke about how he was troubled he also reiterated His desire that the Father would be glorified in Him.
It was then that the voice from heaven was heard, saying, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” Truly His name had been glorified and it would be again. Beyond that the Son Himself to would return to glory with a glorified body forever demonstrating that action that He took for the salvation of man.
As He said these things and the voice from heaven was heard there was a crowd standing around, and the crowd heard the voice as well. The interesting thing is that it is not absolutely clear if any of them actually heard the words of the response, but heard instead the loud thunderous nature of it. We read that some of them might have thought it to be coincidental claps of thunder, while others believed it to be Jesus hearing the voice of an angel.
I’ve not read much commentary on this verse, but it seems reasonable to think that those who did not believe did not hear, while those who were believing did. The reasoning behind this position is what Jesus next had to say, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine.” The questions posed in the previous verses were not intended as Jesus’ questioning if the will of the Father had changed or if His own determination to fulfill that will had changed, but were to serve as an affirmation that this was the one and only option and He was still going to see it through to the end. So it is here, that the voice from heaven reaffirms that what Jesus had said He was here to do was indeed the will from heaven, and He was absolutely in step. These words were for the benefit of those who heard them, which would really represent those who believed them. Those who did not believe were very quick to write it all off to some other cause.
Everywhere around us we see signs of God in His handiwork. We see it in nature and its design. We see it in things being held together when otherwise they should fly apart. We see it in the most simple of creatures which in reality reveal the most complex of designs. We see it in the incredible complexity of the human DNA and in the vastness of the universe. We see it in the lives of men. It is everywhere. At the same time there are a vast majority of people who deny what they see. They write it off to the most ludicrous at times of excuses. They do not see, they do not hear, and they do not understand. God has revealed Himself and they deny His very existence.
The apostle Paul wrote, “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.” (Romans 1:19–23, ESV)
This represents those who refuse to acknowledge God, but it does not represent everyone. In the verses just before these Paul wrote, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”” (Romans 1:16–17, ESV)
There are those who have seen and heard His revelation. There are those who believe, and it is those who are saved and who are called to live by faith in God who really is. I am so thankful to be counted in this group.