John field notes 12(b)(2): What the thunder said

‘Now my soul is in turmoil, and what am I to say? “Father, save me from this hour”? No, it was for this that I came to this hour.  Father, glorify your name.’ A voice came from heaven: ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’ The crowd standing by said it was thunder they heard, while others said, ‘An angel has spoken to him.’ Jesus replied, ‘This voice spoke for your sake, not mine.’ (John 12:27 – 30, REB)

Jesus looks over his audience. Philip and Andrew have just introduced him to the first large contingent of Greeks he has run into during his three-year ministry. These pilgrims have come for Passover but also to see Jesus. There they are, standing together.

Just behind them in the west, the sky begins to darken.

Jesus draws his audience in, as a hen might her chicks from an approaching storm, with his confidential reflections. “What am I to say?” he booms. Looking straight into the darkening sky, he concludes: “Father, glorify your name.” He stares upwards for a minute, then he climbs off the rock, which was serving as an informal dais.

It thunders. The crowd, beginning with the Greeks, begins to debate its significance. Jesus remembers Zeus, but he doesn’t want to bring up the association directly for fear of the Jews.

He hops back on the dais. “This voice spoke for your sake, not mine,” he says.

The “What the thunder said” sub-series: This is second in a series of four slow reads (i.e., amplified versions) of John 12:27 – 30. (The first is here.) The series, properly a sub-series of my “John field notes” series, is modeled after Kierkegaard’s four slow reads of Genesis 22 in the prelude to his Fear and Trembling. Each of Kierkegaard’s versions of Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac is more believable than the Torah’s version, which says something about us, and because the Bible reads us reading it (a central contention of my John field notes series), the Torah subsumes all of Kierkegaard’s versions of the story in its own.

The “John field notes” series: I’m reading John’s gospel. My reactions here vacillate between notes — a list of impressions — and something less sketchy. A note on nomenclature: the note number in my post’s title indicates the chapter of John’s material I’m reacting to. A title’s letter, though, differentiates the post from earlier posts about that chapter. “John field note 2c,” then, is my third post about something in John’s second chapter. N.B.: 12a may precede 3d: I skip around.