timing is everything | John 7.6-9
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 7.6-9 | ESV
Unshaken, Jesus stood his ground with them. “It’s not my time yet – oh, but you’re always right on time, aren’t you? This world is such a perfect fit for you – but me, I’m hopelessly out of place in it because I don’t have anything good to say about it, what it values and does. You go on ahead, pitch your tent, enjoy the feast. Not me. I’m not touching this with a ten-foot tent-pole. No way. It’s not time for me yet.”
And so he lingered on behind in Galilee. MAV (Mike’s Amplified Version)
“Yes, there’s a right time and way for everything, even though, unfortunately, we miss it for the most part.” (Ecclesiastes 8:6ish, Message)
Timing truly is everything.
And this gives us an opportunity to see the overall timing of the events in this seventh chapter of John.
In chapter six at the feeding of the five thousand, it was Passover in early spring. Now summer has passed and it’s early fall – more specifically it’s some five months later. Many smart scholarly types see John’s story over these next several chapters connecting with the story gears of Luke 9:51 roughly through Luke 18, the time in which Jesus senses the time is near for “his ascent at Jerusalem” so he set his face to go there. This is essentially another five-month period – the final five-month period, in fact – as Jesus gradually made his way southward for his final rendezvous with the cross at Jerusalem during his final Passover.
Luke tells what happened in Galilee and Perea (the other side of the Jordan) during those months; John tells the Judean tell, his story nearly always focusing in on Jesus’ interactions in Jerusalem and Judea. During those five months there would be three feasts in Jerusalem that would find Jesus there, and this is the setting for John’s story in the next several chapters:
Tabernacles in the Fall,
Dedication (or Hanukkah or the Festival of Lights) in the Winter,
and Passover in the Spring.
It is during this time in the other gospel accounts that Jesus is repeatedly, bluntly telling his disciples of his impending rejection and death that would be followed by his resurrection. And here’s what I find so striking in John’s telling: this time when Jesus announces that the time is near in the other gospel accounts, begins with Jesus telling his brothers that it most emphatically is not his time to go, thank you very much. But then he goes anyway.
Was he playing games with them?
Is this evidence of his own struggle with his mission – maybe just a bit of reluctance, just a whiff of denial as he stood upon the precipice? (If that thought is offensive because you can’t handle a Jesus that struggles with things, a. remember that he was human and b. remember that whole Garden of Gethsemane scene that’s up ahead.)
Perhaps what is at play here is the simple fact that Jesus knew exactly what time it was he just wasn’t going to let his hostile brothers think they were dictating it.
He did indeed have a train to catch – it was just a private train this time.
And he didn’t miss it.
Yes, timing is everything…
Would you characterize yourself as one who spots those “opportune moments” – or who only sees them after they’ve passed? What do you find helpful in seeing and seizing timely moments?
Abba, give me a heart that can see and seize the time before me; deliver me from a preoccupation with everything but the one thing that matters most right now. Show me how to be more present this day, to be less driven by urgent tyrannies and instead impelled by eternal necessities. Let me track with you in time, on time, this day. Through Jesus.