1After 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. 2Now the Jewish festival of Booths was near. 3So his brothers said to him, "Leave here and go to Judea so that your disciples also may see the works you are doing; 4for no one who wants to be widely known acts in secret. If you do these things, show yourself to the world." 5(For not even his brothers believed in him.) 6Jesus said to them, "My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. 7The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify against it that its works are evil.8Go to the festival yourselves. I am not going to this festival, for my time has not yet fully come." 9After saying this, he remained in Galilee.
10But after his brothers had gone to the festival, then he also went, not publicly but as it were in secret. 11The Jews were looking for him at the festival and saying, "Where is he?" 12And 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." 13Yet no one would speak openly about him for fear of the Jews.
Timing can mean the difference between life and death. Here's a true life example: Many years ago my sister, Elizabeth, brought home a kitten that was lost in a New Jersey farmland, near where my sister and her college friends had a Christian retreat. Finding no one who would claim the kitten, Elizabeth brought the kitten home, to the dismay of my parents. Elizabeth promised Mom and Dad that she'll find someone else who'll take the kitten in. You know the story ... no serious effort was made to get rid of the kitten. The kitten stayed and over a short period of time, my parents came around, falling in love with the cute and smart tabby, which looked like this one:
Well, I was home visiting my parents. On one clear, sunny day I decided to take the kitten outside to the backyard and while she played, I decided to read a book. It was a little breezy but comfortable temperature-wise. I sat down on one of our metal patio chairs, which I moved to a place where the sunlight hit the book just so. A few minutes into my reading, the kitten came bounding along among the bushes in front of me. I instinctively got up to pick her up when, all of a sudden, I heard a loud, metal-on-metal bang. I turned to the sound immediately behind me, to see that a large, aluminum ladder had fallen right on top of the chair. (Earlier I had moved the ladder, leaning it against a large oak tree.) With the breeze and my putting the ladder at an insufficiently wide angle, the ladder came down hard. Had I remained sitting in that metal chair, the sound of the collision would have been metal-on-skull. Severe injury for certain. (The force of the falling ladder left a permanent dent on top of the chair.) With the realization of what happened, I thanked the Lord and I thanked Lucy, the kitten, for saving my life. A few seconds meant the difference between life and traumatic injury (possibly something worse).
Timing is everything, as the saying goes.
Timing in the ministry and life of Jesus, as narrated in the Gospels, is significant throughout. Jesus' birth, baptism, temptation in the wilderness, inaugural message, town-to-town ministry, confrontation with the religious leaders, trial before Pilate, and so forth are all sequenced according to "proper time." Jesus himself was attuned to the proper divine time of unfolding redemptive actions and events. The obvious challenge is, How do you know when is the proper time for X? Jesus, as a man of prayer and constant communion with the Father, sensed those kairos moments [kairos, Greek for time in the sense of "right moment" vs. chronos, Greek for sequential time] that told him that key transitions were at hand.
As Jesus was in sync with the Father's kairos moments, we can be in sync with God's kairos moments as well. How? Through prayer and constant communion with the Lord. The discernment of divine timing, however, is not just for the individual. The early church as a community discerned the timing of the Lord together. Corporate prayer, in the spirit of agreement, readied the early church to launch key mission outreaches and enabled the church to survive and thrive under tremendous political and societal pressures. Timing may not be everything, but if the timing is in accordance with God's will, then we can be confident in God as we move forward in hope.
Let's pray: O God, we want to be in sync with you, we want to keep in step with your good plans. Strengthen our prayer life and sharpen our sensitivity to your voice and leading. We thank you that as we trust in you, you will direct our path, according to your kairos moments through the Holy Spirit. In Jesus' name, amen.