Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Nov 9 2020 - John 7:1-31 – His hour had not yet come

This first half of John 7 is full of tensions and drama. Jesus told his brothers that he would not go up to the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem, but later he does go up, arriving in the middle of the feast. John tells us that Jesus went up secretly, yet he is then found teaching openly in the Temple and drawing the attention of the Jewish authorities. John tells us that the people were amazed at Jesus' teaching since he had had no formal tuition, but the next minute Jesus is accusing them of trying to kill him. Everything seems to be in a muddle. Tensions are building but not quite coming to a head.

And in all of this there seems to be tension in the mind of Jesus himself. He appears to want to avoid confrontation but then seems to provoke it. These are tensions that find their final resolution in Gethsemane where Jesus longs to avoid the cross but yields himself to the will of his Father. Then Jesus will yield himself also to the will of the Jewish leaders. At the moment, his time has not yet come (John 7:6, 30), but his time is coming.

Our lives also are full of unresolved tensions. I find it rather ironical that the opening verses of Ecclesiastes 3 were turned into a pop song. The writer of that book was not celebrating the changing seasons of life but underlining the frustration of it all. “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build” (3:1-3). Life appears to be full of contradictions: what is planted at one moment is rooted up in the next; what is built through the painful labour of many years may be torn down in a moment. No wonder the writer concludes, “What do workers gain from their toil?” (3:9).

The writer continues, “I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end” (3:10-11). The word translated here in the NIV as ‘eternity’ really means ‘the whole thing’. Beyond the confusion of changing times and passing moments we long to understand the big picture – to see God’s plan and purpose from beginning to end. And we long to see where we fit into it all and how the various seasons of our lives have played a part in the working out of God’s great purpose.

Jesus’ time was coming. He is the one at the centre of God’s purposes. His death and resurrection mark the end of a world characterised by vanity or frustration and the beginning of God’s new creation. And because of Christ, the time is coming for each one of us when all conflict and tension will cease and we shall live in a world marked by peace – a world of Shalom.

It's hard living in the "not yet" of this present world. But it is here that we are called to follow Jesus and live for him. And in it all, he walks with us and leads us, for he has walked this way before.

Father God, thank you that in the fullness of time you sent your Son into the world to redeem us from slavery and frustration and bring us into the glorious freedom of the children of God. Risen Lord Jesus, help me by your Spirit to live well in this present world with all its joys and sorrows, dreams, disappointments and regrets. Help me to live the life of the kingdom as I look forward to the day when your kingdom shall come in all its fullness.

Peter Misselbrook