Growing in our relationship with God we come to know Him as one who never shows up late or early, but is always there precisely when we need Him.
After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He would not go about in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him. Now the Jews’ Feast of Booths was at hand. So his brothers said to him, Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works you are doing. For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” For not even his brothers believed in him. Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil. You go up to the feast. I am not going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come.” After saying this, he remained in Galilee. (John 7:1-9)
“A wizard is never late, nor is he early. He arrives precisely when he means to.” These are the first words Gandalf speaks to Frodo in Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Fellowship of the Ring. At the time those words were spoken, the young nephew of Bilbo Baggins understood them to be a wry quip as Gandalf trundled up the path with his cart laden with fireworks and goods for the widely anticipated 111th birthday celebration. As their relationship continued however, Frodo would understand those words were far more indicative of the wizard’s impeccable timing.
In John 7, Jesus’ unbelieving brothers challenge him to go to Jerusalem and make himself known if that was what he really wanted, as if personal fame was his goal. In their words we detect subtle notes of doubt as to the veracity of Jesus’ ministry which are further made clear when the beloved disciple offers as an aside, “For not even his brothers believed in him.” Responding to their challenge Jesus says, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here.”
In the Gospel According to John we read Jesus saying time and again that his “hour” had not yet come. In those instances the word most often used for hour is the Greek word hora. This is the theologically charged term for when he would be sacrificed for our sins by being raised up upon the cross. It signified the purpose for which he came and the end goal upon which his ministry was set.
In this passage of John the word used for time is the Greek word kairos. It refers more to a moment or set designation of time rather than the end goal, “hour,” of his ministry. So what is Jesus drawing our attention to here?
Through this interaction we see that not only was Jesus dependent upon the Father’s timing for when he would die for our sins, but that in every moment of his life he listened for when he was supposed to be where.
He never acted on his own but was always where he was supposed to be when he was supposed to be there. That is, his timing is always perfect because he is attuned to the Father’s timing. That was true in his earthly ministry and it continues to be true as he intercedes for us at the God the Father’s right hand.
Amidst the anniversary of this pandemic and shutdown, we are reflecting on the times we asked God when he was going to “show up” to meet our needs. In that reflection I hope we see God’s presence and our preparation to receive his nearness.
And as we look forward we can be sure that he will continue to work with temporal impeccability. Growing in our relationship with God we come to know Him as one who never shows up late or early, but is always there precisely when we need Him.
Will Stockdale is a Ministry Associate in Washington, D.C. and co-host of The Will & Rob Show.