“My Time is Not Yet…” Some Reflections on John 7:2-6

     While driving down some winding mountain roads in the Adirondacks last August with my family (I remember the clear blue sunny day well), I noticed an enormous rectangle-shaped wooden sign at the front of a Summer camp which read “Jesus is Lord”.  That was actually the name of the camp.  I mentioned to my wife that it’s amazing a man who never left the small environs of Galilee and Judea is named in every corner of the Earth.  His Lordship is even proclaimed from the top of two Cedars in the Adirondack Park (which, by the way, is no where near Palestine).

     What makes it even more remarkable is that Jesus didn’t seek such recognition for himself, at least not in the manner it was sought by the religious and political rulers of his day.  In John 7, the Jewish Feast of Booths was soon to take place.  His brothers offered him what seems like some very sensible PR advice.  They say to him in verse 3, “Depart from here, and go into Judea, that your disciples also may behold your works which you are doing.  For no one does anything in secret, when he himself seeks to be known publicly.  If you do these things, show yourself to the world.”  To put it in more modern language, “Jesus, don’t stay here.  Go into Judea during the feast when everyone, including your disciples, will be there.  Then show your power.  Everyone will see you!”  Then this comment is added at the end, “If you do these things, show yourself to the world.”  If…. a conditional statement, right after Jesus’ brothers tell him to get out there in front of the crowds and perform.  For, the text goes on to say, “…not even his brothers were believing in him.”

Why do you think that Jesus didn’t heed his brothers’ advice?  We know from the text (v. 1) that the Jewish leaders were seeking to kill him, but Jesus himself answers this question in v. 6, “My time is not yet at hand, but your time is always opportune.”  That is, “you can go to the Feast any time you wish, however I must not go up until the time appointed for me”.  The Lord isn’t operating according to what the world considers to be conventional wisdom.  His exhaltation is not the result of a campaign for glory.  It was through the valley of humiliation, through the weakness of the cradle and the cross, that Jesus obtained the crown.  He “emptied himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men…..he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  Therefore also God highly exalted him, and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow…(Phil. 2:7-10).

As followers of Christ, we should make faithfulness our aim.  God will exhalt those who are His in due time.  Even Jesus didn’t seek a name in this world, yet there is practically no place in it where the Son of God is not proclaimed.  Ironic, isn’t it?  And still amazing.

 

C.M. Granger

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No parole for this sinner, just a pardon

To be imprisoned with no hope of parole must be one of the most crushing sentences for any man. Yet the Bible says that all men, in their sins, are spiritually locked-up for life, with no hope of parole. Paul writes in Galatians 3:22a (esv), “But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin…”

One modern criminal justice textbook says the history of parole began when a Scot named Alexander Maconochie, a captain in the British Royal Navy, was appointed superintendent of some penal colonies in Australia.

“Believing prisoners were capable of reform, he developed a plan to prepare them for their eventual return to society. He divided his system into three grades, with each offering more life outside prison. Prisoners could earn promotions through labor, study, and good behavior.”
[J.Samaha’s, Criminal Justice, 7th Ed.]

Paroled prisoners may live outside the prison as long as they obey the laws of the land and do not violate the terms of their release. While this may help convicts rejoin society, there is no spiritual equivalent to parole to help men regain fellowship with God our Maker. There is no release or freedom from our imprisonment in sin for ‘good behavior’ or by keeping the laws of God. You cannot undo your guilt before God by improving your attitude or your actions — not even by keeping all the laws of God (if that were possible).

Paul said it bluntly in Galatians two: “we know that a person is not justified by works of the law … because by works of the law no one will be justified.”  This is makes the sinner’s predicament perfectly clear: your good behavior, your best “works” or law keeping cannot put you right with the Lord. All men and women still in their sin stand condemned before a holy God.

But Paul also wrote to make clear the good news — the gospel of Jesus Christ — as stated in the rest of that same verse (2:16):  “yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.” The good news is that by trusting Jesus Christ — the perfect man, the Son of God the perfect law-keeper — we can be put right with God.

The joyous message of the Bible is simply this:  there is a pardon for guilty, convicted sinners! Not merely a parole, conditioned on your behavior, but a full and free pardon based on the person of Jesus Christ. Having faith in Jesus — His sinless life, His perfect law-keeping, His victory over death and the grave — faith in Him saves you, and frees you.

It was 34 years ago today — July 11th, in 1978 — that I turned from trusting in my religious good works and put my faith in Jesus. That very day I was set free from my prison of sin and guilt by the amazing grace of God! Oh what blessings are mine because of Christ! My hope of heaven is grounded on Him, not on me. Amazing grace indeed! As this new “Coffee Rings” blog gets underway, I thought it important to share this brief look at the gospel, and extend to any and all our readers its offer of pardon and freedom in Christ.
~ pdb

Is Reading Your Bible Enough for Spiritual Growth?

The Armies of the Lamb: The Spirituality of Andrew Fuller, was edited by Dr. Michael Haykin, and published by Joshua Press, © 2001.  It provides readers with a snapshot of the spiritual growth and influence of the eighteenth century pastor, Andrew Fuller.  Haykin compiled forty-six of Fuller’s letters.  The letters are not organized by any obvious pattern: size, content, or geographical sequence; however, the apparent “randomness” of the letters seem to prove that Fuller’s life and ministry was governed by the Scriptures.

In several of Fuller’s letters, he encouraged many of his recipients to “Be conversant with their Bible.”  Fuller also told a group of pastors to make sure they didn’t just use their Bible to look for passages to preach, but to “Read them that you may get good to your own souls.”  This is good advice, but is that enough for spiritual growth? NO.  Reading our Bibles is not enough — we must allow our Bibles to read us!

The Scriptures teach that The Word of God judges the intentions of our hearts (Hebrews 4:12).  It will usually be in our quiet time that the Word will show us the motives of our actions.  For example, why did I help my neighbor fix his car?  Was it because I wanted my neighbor to be in debt to me so that when my car breaks down he will feel obligated to help me?  Did we give money to that college student so that in the future, someone will give money to our children?  Or do we just do good deeds for God’s approval or “good karma?”  We should read God’s Word, but it will not benefit us as much as allowing God’s Word to read our hearts so that both our hearts and actions will bring glory to God.

Brian L. Spivey