Jesus said to them, ‘My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready.’ (John 7:6)
It always hurts when those who are closest to us don’t support us. Of the many burdens Jesus Christ had to bear during his life on earth, one was that his own brothers did not believe in him.
Jesus taught things that very few people wanted to hear, and often shunned the limelight. But here in John 7 his brothers urge him to go up to Jerusalem for a feast, and make a show of his powers.
In response, Jesus says ‘My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready.’ It seems like a strange reply, but it gives us plenty to think about. How do you think about time?
Time to shine!
His brothers thought that it was his time to shine, to be noticed, to become more popular. It seems that they thought that the general public needed to be reminded just how great their older brother was! Thousands of people had recently stopped following him, but it wasn’t too late to redeem the situation and get things back to how they were, when he fed 5,000 and had them clamouring to crown him their King.
Time to spare?
Jesus’ response is that his brothers should go to the feast. For them, any time would be just fine. It doesn’t seem to matter when and if they go to the feast. But his case is totally different. His brothers won’t be hated for what they say, and it is likely that nobody will notice them. They have a certain freedom, perhaps time to spare. Sometimes we think of ‘spare time’ as a bit of a luxury – but how carefully do we think about time itself? Time is a mysterious thing – an undeniable, yet invisible force. We cannot (whatever the movies say) slow it down, or speed it up. We cannot reverse our lives and undo past mistakes. We cannot leap into the future and see what is coming next. We are entirely subject to time, and nobody can be free of its power – there is only so much that you can do in a day. There is only so much that you can compensate for the passage of time as your body ages, or your prized possessions decay.
We are, actually, very much like Jesus’ brothers. For us, our ‘time is always ready’. One time is much the same as another. We go from day to day, dealing with problems as they arise. We respond to circumstances without a second thought. Got a toothache? Time to go to the dentist. Out of food? Time to go to the shops. Out of money? Time to work or visit the bank. Tired? Time to sleep – and on and on it goes. We may have diaries but even they go forward a year or so at most. We live, so very much, in the ‘here and now’.
Jesus Christ is different. He came from outside time into a world constrained by it. As a man, he was limited by time, but his time was planned out perfectly and as God he knew every last detail. This is why he said to his brothers ‘My time has not yet come’. There would be a right time for him to go up to Jerusalem, secretly, but it was not yet.
There something quite is majestic in the contrast between Jesus and his brothers. They may think that they order their own lives, and can do as they please, but only he has such control. God’s perspective of time is completely different to ours. All pictures to help us grasp this have flaws, but you can perhaps think of your own relation to time as a man watching a DVD film, only seeing one frame or image at a time, and in a set order, whereas God’s view is of every frame, all at once.
God has created time and all the laws of nature and physics. He has created all the of universe and then in the person of Jesus he has entered into it. But everything he did had a time, a place, and was ordained. In Revelation we read of Christ as ‘the Lamb of God slain from before the foundation of the world’ – what Christ would do at Calvary was, to put it somewhat crudely, as good as done already. Nothing can stop the purposes of God.
Time to stop
The stunning reality of Christ’s death is that the Father put the Son to death, and that the Son willingly suffered and died. Yes, men played their wicked part, but this was the determined will of God. What love there is for broken humanity in every part of the will of God! All throughout his earthly life, the Son does the will of the Father, all the time, moving towards that dreadful day without hesitation.
Dear reader, it is time to stop, wherever you might be and whatever you are doing right now. Stop. Turn to these words in front of you. Think them through. Are you just ‘killing time’ as you read this article? Perhaps you have a cup of coffee now and you just have a moment before the next big event of your day?
Henry David Thoreau said ‘You cannot kill time without injuring eternity’. Time is everything to us, but it is nothing in the light of what comes at the end of life. How much time do we waste on things that don’t matter? Even when the church gathers on Sundays we can just pass the time, or rather, the time passes us!
John Blanchard points out that ‘we speak of spending time, the Bible speaks of buying it.’ We think of time as merely a tool, but it will be our master if we do not master it. How many hours have you wasted on things that don’t really matter?
‘My time has not yet come,’ said Jesus. But it did come, as planned. And every day that followed it, even until today, as you sit and read this, will come and go, as planned. His will is being done. His plans are coming to pass, and just as certain as that day of dread at Calvary is another day, when Christ returns and time will end. Eternity will take over. Do you have no taste for the thought of the end of time? Do you have no desire for something greater than the time-limited pleasures of this world? Then it really is time to stop.
This life is no playground, but a preparation for eternity. Christ has come into time that we might be freed from it. Think on his love. Now, you have the time to think. Soon, you will have none, but that need not matter, because if you have Jesus Christ, then you will have eternal life.
Do you believe in him? What does your use of time say in answer to this question? Do you have loads of time for hobbies or fun, but no time for involvement in the life of the church? Do you have loads of time to chat about trivia, but no time to talk about Jesus Christ? God’s time is not an hour on Sunday morning, but every hour is his. Are you living for him, or for yourself?
In life, we all hope we will have a ‘Time to shine’. We all buy into the illusion that we have ‘Time to spare’. Will you recognise, now, that it is ‘Time to stop?’
Please, stop. Think, and consider Christ, who never turned back from the path that would lead him to Calvary’s pain, because of his great love for sinners; who entered the limits of time so that we might one day be free from all such limits – repent of your sin, and believe in him!