November 15, 2013
Dear brothers and sisters,
I am taking the good news today from John 7:3-9.
So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples also may see the works you are doing. No one works in secret if he wants to be known publicly. If you do these things, manifest yourself to the world.” For his brothers did not believe in him. So Jesus said to them, “My time is not yet here, but the time is always right for you. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me, because I testify to it that its works are evil. You go up to the feast. I am not going up to this feast, because my time has not yet been fulfilled.” After he had said this, he stayed on in Galilee.
As the next verses attest, Jesus did indeed go to Jerusalem for the feast of Tabernacles but some time after his brothers had left and he went in secret. Jesus remained at the feast through the middle of chapter 10. To John this must have been a significant time for Jesus. Barclay points out that this is the only time that John used the word kairos for Jesus’ time or his hour, “which characteristically means an opportunity; that is, the best time to do something, the moment when circumstances are most suitable, the psychological moment.” Everywhere else John used “hora, which means the destined hour of God. Such a time was not movable or avoidable.”
During this time in Jerusalem, not yet God’s appointed time, Jesus used the opportunity to reveal himself and his mission. In various discourses he made statements like the following.
“My teaching is not my own but is from the one who sent me.”
“I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.”
“I will be with you only a little while longer, and then I will go to the one who sent me.”
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
“When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM, and that I do nothing on my own, but I say only what the Father taught me.”
“If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and am here; I did not come on my own, but he sent me.”
This was radical stuff! I think Jesus was preparing himself psychologically as much as he was preparing his disciples and followers. Sometimes it is in speaking my thoughts out loud or writing them down that my words, my beliefs, become clear to me and constitute a commitment at the same time. While I was running yesterday afternoon, I was talking out loud to Jesus. In that talking and the spaces in between, I came to understand my own thoughts more clearly and was affirmed by him. That’s how it works for me and maybe how it worked for Jesus as well. In reading the next several chapters, Jesus repeated and expanded on these statements. Maybe as he said these things out loud he was affirmed by God as well. I think he used the opportunity of the feast of Tabernacles to try things out, to expound on his thoughts, to listen for affirmation from his Father, to test reactions of his listeners, to prepare himself psychologically for what was to come when his time would be fulfilled or brought to fruition.
Jesus provides a good example for me to follow. It is when I take advantage of opportunities to test ideas out with others I trust, or talk out loud to him, or write these reflections that I come to a more full understanding of what I think. It’s a useful way of preparing myself to commit myself to what I genuinely believe. Then I’m able to operate from a place of peace and confidence. It’s often when I react without an opportunity for preparation that I am unclear in my own thinking, when I make statements that I later regret, that leaves me with a troubled, uneasy spirit. That’s when I know that I’m not attuned to God’s will for me. It’s much better if I delay my response until the time is right just as Jesus told his brothers.