I understand giving Jesus, the King of Kings, a title or a professional name as the “perfect time- keeper” may sound ridiculous, if not irreverent. As a youngster I found my way into the airline business. With a job in Swiss Air, my training taught me the importance of keeping on time. You may laugh at this, but If a flight at my station was delayed for more than three minutes, I had to show cause for the delay, in writing, with a copy to head Office in Zurich, Switzerland. Boy, did I ever learn a Great lesson for life. I am sure my readers have similar experiences on “time keeping”.
Jesus knew the demands of day-to-day living as well as the importance of discipline thereof. It was interesting to notice how Jesus was “on time, every time”. With that short introduction, let me attempt to show why I gave this unusual title for this post.
Time to work, study and prepare himself for the mission. Jesus took the time to study and prepare. This is evident, when at at age twelve, while visiting the holy temple with Joseph and Mary, the boy Jesus surprised the Elders at the temple. “Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers” Luke 2:46-47. This could not have happened without daily rigorous labour combined with hours of study. The holy family’s livelihood depended on it.
The Scripture did record that some derisively called Jesus: “Is not this the carpenter’s (labour class) son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us? And they took offense at him. Mark 6:3. Just imagine!
There are many titles before Jesus’ name but no “PhD” after Jesus’ name. He did not sit at the feet of either Hillel or Gamaliel (Paul did under Gamaliel), the two most prominent teachers of that era. Besides, there were no scholarships for a labourer and Jesus did not belong to the “upper class” either.
Jesus knew the time was not ripe for another eighteen years. This valuable experience was clear when he answered Mary at twelve at the temple, “wist ye not that I must be about my father’s business”; a very gentle reminder to Mary. By the way those were the first recorded words of the Lord in the Scriptures (Luke 2:49).
Jesus was now aware the time was ticking closer. He knew the place to be; on the banks of river Jordan (Bethabara), where John the Baptist, the “forerunner” was preaching and baptizing. Jesus, as they say in modern terminology, “hung around” there as the old saying goes “one has to be at the right place at the right time”.
Time to inaugurate the mission and to select co-workers and train them. This is long before “management by objective”, “time management”, “leadership development seminars, etc. Jesus knew the true and spiritual value of the right selection combined with superb training. The mission is now aflame and no power on earth could hinder.
Jesus knew it was the exact time to start. This surprised me; why he did not announce it at the local synagogue or to a group of Elders with pomp and circumstance? On the contrary, he chose a simple occasion, a family wedding celebration at Cana! “This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him” (John 2:11). Look at that timing!
Time to teach not only disciples but also a ruler of the Jews. I had often wondered how did John 3:16 become the most popular Verse of the Bible? We know here is God’s explicit plan, epitomized to one single verse declaring, once and for all the glorious blend of the love of God the Father, the grace of the Son Jesus Christ! There is more to it. I believe Jesus knew the social and religious environment making it awkward for Nick to visit Jesus during broad light. Jesus granted a nocturnal, “clandestine” night talk with Nicodemus, hungering and thirsting for truth. This continues !
No wonder John at the end of his gospel (19:38-39) made an honourable mention of two: Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathaea, getting permission from Pilate and giving Jesus a proper burial complete with myrrh and aloes. (Recall, my post on the Magi and their gifts?)
Time for a grand ending of his mission. (main mission continues). He meticulously organized and prepared in minute detail the upper room, the last supper, the garden, and the (high priestly) prayer. God even gave Moses, the Law Giver, and Elijah the Prophet a “temporary leave of absence” from heaven to go to earth and minister to the Son! Jesus took time even in pain to instruct John to take care for his aged, widowed mother Mary (John 19:26-27). Jesus knew the precise time at the cross when he received the sour wine and said triumphantly, “It is finished” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
In conclusion, the discipline of time keeping is not simple as some may think. It is costly, often demands sacrifices, even face persecutions and in Jesus’ case the cross. Time keeping has its rewards. Jesus knew the time when the stone would be rolled away and would come out of the borrowed tomb. This “time keeper” promised to come back again to receive them and us included who believed in the “time keeper”.
“And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men” (I have often wondered who these two were; could it be the same two who were sent from heaven just before the cross, one raised as a Prince in Egypt, and the other a prophet from Tishbe?), stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven” (Acts 1:10-11). When will that be? I assure you, right to the very second as the eternal “time keeper” has promised.
God bless, Danny Paul
*** May I recommend to my readers, if they so desire, a Christian classic to read, one of my favourite books, “The Training of the Twelve”, by Alexander Balmain Bruce, 1740-1821. I brought this book with me all the way from Calcutta back in 1969