Friday, March 29, 2013

The Fullness of Time


From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.” – Matthew 16:21

Sometimes when we read God’s word we fail to notice what He is truly saying.  We read the same passages time and time again, and eventually the words are glanced over rather than understood by our heart and mind. 
But then there are times when God will open our hearts and eyes to something He wants us to see.  These are the times I long for in reading His word, times of revelation, of blessings in understanding a new thing about Him.  I’m going to share one of those revelations with you today, and I hope that it will bless your heart as it did mine, and cause His Spirit to bubble over inside you!

It seems to begin right after Jesus is baptized by John.  Immediately after He was baptized, Jesus was taken into the wilderness.  He fasted for 40 days, and was tempted by Satan for 40 days.  But reciting God's word back to Satan in response to those temptations, Jesus overcame him.  Luke 4:13 then says "Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until AN OPPORTUNE TIME."  Satan waited, patiently, for "an opportune time", that he was aware would come.

During that time John the Baptist was arrested and put into prison.  Jesus knew then what was to come next.  He came to Galilee, preaching the gospel, and in Mark 1: 15 we read that He said “THE TIME IS FULFILLED, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” The time had been fulfilled.  Now was the time for His ministry to begin.

Even the demons knew about it!  When Jesus came to shore with his disciples in Gergesenes  the demons, called Legion, cried out to Jesus in Matthew 8:29 and said “What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us BEFORE THE TIME?”  They were keenly aware of a time to come.

Jesus decided He must share it with His disciples.  In Matthew 16:21, it says that “From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.” He openly predicted His death, not once, not twice, but three times, while waiting for the fullness of time.  It was on His calendar, in His appointment book.

He did not keep it a secret, yet few understood.  In John 4, Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem, to see the temple, and have Passover.  It was necessary for Him to stop in Samaria. There He shared it with the Samaritan woman at the well, one who was despised because of her heritage.  She asked where they should worship God, and Jesus answered “Woman, believe Me, THE HOUR IS COMING when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But THE HOUR IS COMING, AND NOW IS, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” He said “the hour is coming, and now is” noting that it had come nearer as time in His ministry had passed.

He goes on to Jerusalem.  In John 5, He heals the man at the pool of Bethesda, telling him “Rise, take up your bed and walk.”, only to be ridiculed by the devote Jews who said it was not lawful for this man, now healed by the miraculous voice of Jesus, to carry his own bed because it was the Sabbath day. 

Jesus begins to try once again to teach these, the chosen ones, saying “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. Most assuredly, I say to you, THE HOUR IS COMING, AND NOW IS, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live.”  Yes, He told them as well, “the hour is coming, and now is”. 

He continued on teaching, saying “For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; FOR THE HOUR IS COMING  in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.”

The Jews hated Jesus. They felt threatened because He was the righteousness they could not attain through the law.  They failed to see the obvious: the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies of the scripture they so loved and worshipped.  Two chapters later in John 7 the disciples were going into Judea for the Feast of the Tabernacle.  They begged Jesus to come along because there would be many people there, and He needed, they thought, to make Himself famous among them.  But Jesus tells them in John 7:6-8, “MY TIME HAS NOT YET COME, but your time is always ready. The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil. You go up to this feast. I am not yet going up to this feast, for MY TIME HAS NOT YET FULLY COME.” Jesus still waited, patiently, as Satan waited patiently.  His time had not yet fully come, yet they already hated Him.

Try to keep Jesus from worship! It cannot be done.  He secretly went to the feast anyway (John 7:10).  But the Jews saw him and began to ask, “Where is He?”  Boldly, in the middle of the feast, Jesus enters the temple and begins to teach.  The religious Jews are baffled at how He knows the scriptures, but has not studied them.  Some of them began to say “Is this not He whom they seek to kill? But look! He speaks boldly, and they say nothing to Him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is truly the Christ? However, we know where this Man is from; but when the Christ comes, no one knows where He is from.”

Then Jesus claims His father to the Jews, crying out in the temple, “You both know Me, and you know where I am from; and I have not come of Myself, but He who sent Me is true, whom you do not know. But I know Him, for I am from Him, and He sent Me.”  He was God sent, appointed for a time that God had set.

At that time, they begin to seek to find a way to take Him captive, to arrest Him, “but no one laid a hand on Him, because HIS HOUR HAD NOT YET COME.”(John 7:30) Jesus could not just be arrested and put in prison.  That was not His purpose.

Then they brought a woman to Him to test Him.  They’d found her committing adultery, “in the very act” they said.  They told Jesus that according to their custom she was to be stoned to death, and asked Him what should be done.  But Jesus did not come to destroy us, but to save us.  He spoke with authority to them, saying, “he that has not sinned, let him cast the first stone.”  And yet, being the only one without sin, He did not stone her.  How did he punish her?  He did not.  Instead, Jesus forgave her sins, and said “Go and sin no more.” The Jews were not pleased!  How dare this man who claimed to be the son of God forgive sins!  As they became even more angered at him, John 8: 20 says “and no one laid hands on Him, for HIS HOUR had not yet come.”

Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany.  There the Jews were already enraged at Him as well. They sought to kill not only Jesus, but Lazarus who he had raised from the dead.  But while they chose to try to destroy the Messiah, the Greeks came to see Him, to know Him.  When they asked to see him, inquiring of Andrew and Philip if they could see Him, Jesus knew what the Greeks would do.  He knew they would accept Him, and His fame would spread.  He answered them “THE HOUR HAS COME that the Son of Man should be glorified. Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.”  This was not the hour, but it was closer, yes, very close.  Jesus knew the purpose of His earthly life was to be the grain of wheat that dies, and produces much grain.

In John 12:27-30, Jesus speaks of the pain in His heart, and says, “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘FATHER, SAVE ME FROM THIS HOUR’?  BUT FOR THIS PURPOSE I CAME TO THIS HOUR. Father, glorify Your name.” Jesus consciously chose not to be glorified so that God could be glorified in Him.    And then God spoke!  He spoke in an auditable voice as when Jesus was baptized.  Neither time did God speak for Jesus sake, but for our sake, for those who were listening.  Speaking of His name, He said “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.”

When the Passover time was at hand, in Matthew 26:18-19 Jesus tells the disciples to go into the city, and to say to a certain man, “MY TIME IS AT HAND; I will keep the Passover at your house with My disciples.” This ‘certain man’ knew of the time.  He prepared a room for them to share the last supper.  And “WHEN THE HOUR HAD COME, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.”(Luke 22:14-15)
Yet He spoke to them about an hour that was still to come, as he said in John 16:32-33, Indeed THE HOUR IS COMING, YES, HAS NOW COME, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone.”, just as the grain of wheat dies alone.  But intending to encourage them for that time to come, he continued saying “and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”HE KNEW HIS HOUR HAD COME, and He would depart from this world, and having loved the disciples who were of the world, He would love them to the end.(John 13:1)

So after the supper was over, He knew that Satan had already found His “opportune time” and had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him” (John 13:2) He spoke to the disciples about many things yet to come, washed their feet, and preparing them to be without Him.  And then he told them that one of them would betray Him, In John 13:26 He said, “It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it. And having dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. Now after the piece of bread, Satan entered him. Then Jesus said to him, “What you do, do quickly.””  No time was to be wasted, the time was at hand. 
Jesus now needed to pray.  His soul was full of sorrow, even to the point of wanting to die (Mark 14:34).  They went to the garden of Gethsemane to pray, and he prayed that if it were possible for THE HOUR to pass from Him, but nevertheless, for God’s will to be done.

Matthew 26 tells of the three times Jesus returned to the disciples to find them peacefully sleeping as He prayed in misery.  They were still oblivious to the hour at hand.  He comes to them the third time in verses 45-46 and says, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, THE HOUR IS AT HAND, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.” The hour was near, but this was not the hour.  The hour would come later, on the cross.
In fact, several hours passed.  Jesus was beaten, spit on, mocked, and bruised.  He was beaten so violently that he did not resemble himself. They put a crown of thorns on His head, and made Him carry His own cross, which was too heavy for Him to bear. He was placed on the cross, nails through His hands and feet, and then raised the cross, hanging Jesus on it.  From the sixth hour till the ninth hour, there was darkness over all the earth.  And in the ninth hour, then HIS HOUR came. 

Matthew 27:46 says that “He cried out, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Jesus had taken all our sins upon Himself, and our sins separated Him from God for the first time in His life. And then it happened.  He cried out with a loud voice, and gave up His own Spirit.  He died.
Heaven responded to His death.  Matthew 27:51-53 says Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many. We no longer needed to make sacrifices for the old covenant was broken, and the new covenant was born, all that the appointed time.

That ninth hour, when He died, He redeemed us, and those in the grave. 
In that ninth hour, when He gave up His Holy Spirit, He gave it to live freely in us.

In that ninth hour, He gave us the new birth, the rebirth out of the generational curse of sin, through His death.
Galatians 4:1-7 says “Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father.  Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But WHEN THE FULLNESS OF TIME HAD COME, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.  And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”

It happened in the fullness of time, the time appointed since before the foundation of the world, by God.  The Greek word for “fullness of time” is ‘kairos’, meaning “a measured time (His Hour); a fixed and definite time (planned); season; an ‘opportune’ or seasonable time; THE RIGHT TIME; a limited period.”  His time was our time.
Ephesians 1:4-14 says that “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having PREDESTINED US to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself”. It says that it was “in the dispensation OF THE FULLNESS OF TIME” that we obtained our inheritance.

When we tell the story of Easter, we often say that it was about Jesus.  But it wasn’t.  It was about us.  It was about a predestined time, and a predestined people. 
It was about those that He loved more than He loved His own life, and Him showing us that He would love us until the end of time.  Our new birth only came by way of His death.  Just as His mother Mary, in the “fullness of time” had birthed Jesus, also in the “fullness of time”, He gave us the re-birth, life in Him.

Tears pour down my face when I think about it.  We are loved with a love that existed before the earth was formed, and changed the course of time.  Because of that unfathomable love, God planned for our future thousands of years before we were born.  Knowing our curse of sin would come, He planned Jesus to break the curse before the earth was formed.  His love for us withstood the tests of time, and is with us eternally. 
Jesus lived for that hour, that fullness of time, when He could die to redeem us.  Love has come, and love has won. 

I love you Jesus.

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