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Time not yet; Time always here

Jesus says for those who do not believe in him, their time “is always here.” But for himself, his time “has not yet come.” This provocative difference has important implications for how we, as those who do believe in him, are to live.

Jesus mentioned this difference to his unbelieving brothers when they challenged him to go to the festival so that he could, in effect, market himself. Theirs was the logic of this world: If you want to make a name for yourself, then you’d better go do some networking.

No, said Jesus, he will not go because his time has not yet come, but they can go because their time is always here. What does this mean?

And then, another curious thing: Jesus did end up going to the festival, but “as it were in secret.” What does this mean?

For unbelievers, the only time they have is the time they have now. They can do nothing more than to live for the moment, because now is the totality of their horizon of meaning. “Now” in this context means this life and all of its pleasures and demands. This is why there are such sayings as “you only go around once in life” or “go for all the gusto.” Or there is the book: 100 Things to Do Before you Die. These sayings and book titles are poignant, because they reflect the instinctual sense an unbelieving world has that this time is all the time it has.

In this now, faith, hope, love, and all the other attributes of Christ’s character, attributes that can only come to complete fruition in the presence of Christ himself, are at best shadows of themselves, possible only through the various burdens of self exertion, but not via the weightlessness of divine grace. For those who do not believe Jesus, there is all the time in the world for these exertions – now.

But for those who do believe Jesus, and are therefore members of his body, the present now, the now that is always here, is placed in a much larger temporal context. There is either Hope that resides beyond this now, or, as Paul says, we are of all men most to be pitied.

The scheduled events of that larger time, whether it is the crucifixion of Jesus, his resurrection as the first fruit of the new creation, or our resurrection to be with him in glory, the completion of that schedule is not yet. Relative to that schedule, yes we are also at this present festival. But we are at this festival with the knowledge that it is not our festival. We are just here, as it were, in secret.


John 7:1-13 After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He did not wish to go about in Judea because the Jews were looking for an opportunity to kill him. Now the Jewish festival of Booths was near. So his brothers said to him, "Leave here and go to Judea so that your disciples also may see the works you are doing; for no one who wants to be widely known acts in secret. 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 against it that its works are evil. Go to the festival yourselves. I am not going to this festival, for my time has not yet fully come." After saying this, he remained in Galilee. But after his brothers had gone to the festival, then he also went, not publicly but as it were in secret. The Jews were looking for him at the festival and saying, "Where is he?" And there was considerable complaining about him among the crowds. While some were saying, "He is a good man", others were saying, "No, he is deceiving the crowd." Yet no one would speak openly about him for fear of the Jews.

1 Corinthians 15.19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.


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