Practicing our faith through the times of the Coronavirus

Day 25, April 7, 2020
“Some Said It Thundered”

          I pay attention when something sticks with someone for a long time. I pay special attention when something special sticks with a special person for a long time. Charles Cawthon was a special person, an elder at our church in Houston who served as an elder until he was nearly 90 years old. He was ordained as an elder in his early twenties. In so many ways Charles was a special man. When Charles spoke about something special that stuck with him, I paid special attention.

          Charles Cawthon worshiped at the Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church in Houston during the late 1950s and early 1960s. The pastor at MDPC in those days, the pastor who founded MDPC was Charlie Shedd. Sometime in those years, Charles Cawthon was sitting in the pew at MDPC when Charlie Shedd preached a sermon with the title, “Some said it thundered.” Maybe it was during Holy Week of one of those years. I don’t know when Charlie Shedd preached that sermon, but it stuck with Charles Cawthon, and many times Charles would call to mind that wonderful sermon title, “Some said it thundered.”

          Here on the Tuesday of Holy Week, the reading assigned to us from the gospel of John comes from chapter 12, verses 20-36. Jesus says the hour has come for “The Son of Man to be glorified.” He is speaking about his death. “Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” He is speaking about his death and his resurrection. “Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour?’” Death is not easy for anyone. We must never think death was easy for Jesus. “What should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour?’” Death was not easy for Jesus, but Jesus made the hard choice. “No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour.” Jesus knew why he came, to offer his life so that he might save our lives. So, Jesus says, “Father, glorify your name.”

          It is at that point, when Jesus has affirmed that he has embraced the hard choice of offering his life, a voice came from heaven. When Jesus said, “Father, glorify your name,” a voice came from heaven saying, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” God and Jesus were on the same page. Just like John told us way back in chapter one, the Word was with God and the Word was God. The voice of God speaks from heaven.

          Well, the crowd that was standing there heard it, they heard the voice from heaven, and it was at that point, when the voice of God spoke from heaven, that John tells us, “Some said it thundered.” Indeed, it did thunder, as God gave his thunderous approval to the life of his precious Son. We can almost hear God saying again the words from the baptism and the Mount of Transfiguration, the words that express God’s complete and undying approval of Jesus, “This is my Son, whom I love. With him I am well pleased.” Today as Jesus moves one day closer to the cross, may we listen carefully with every fabric of our being, may we listen so that we can hear God’s thundering voice speaking to Jesus the great words of promise, that God will glorify his holy name through the life, through the death, and through the resurrection of Jesus. When you hear that voice saying those things, it will most likely stick with you. It will most likely stick with you a long time. That’s what we mean when we say, “Some said it thundered.” Today I say thanks for my good friend Charles, one of God’s precious saints. He heard the thunder, and that thunder changed his life.

With the love of Christ,

Readings for Tuesday of Holy Week: Isaiah 49:1-7; Psalm 71:1-14; I Corinthians 1:18-31; John 12:20-36