Friday, August 6, 2010

Timing Is Everything

"Then Jesus cried out in the temple, teaching and saying, 'You both know Me and know where I am from; and I have not come of Myself, but He who sent Me is true, whom you do not know. I know Him, because I am from Him, and He sent Me.' So they were seeking to seize Him; and no man laid his hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come." John 7:28--30

In the First Century.
From Josephus it appears that in the first century before the destruction of the Temple a number of Messiahs arose promising relief from the Roman yoke, and finding ready followers. Josephus speaks of them thus: "Another body of wicked men also sprung up, cleaner in their hands, but more wicked in their intentions, who destroyedthe peace of the city no less than did these murderers [the Sicarii]. For they were deceivers and deluders of the people, and, under pretense of divine illumination, were for innovations and changes, and prevailed on the multitude to act like madmen, and went before them in the wilderness, pretending that God would there show them signs of liberty" (Josephus, "B. J." ii. 13, §; 4; idem, "Ant." xx. 8, §; 6). Matt. xxiv. 24, warning against "false Christs and false prophets," gives testimony to the same effect. Thus about 44, Josephus reports, a certain impostor, Theudas, who claimed to be a prophet, appeared and urged the people to follow him with their belongings to the Jordan, which he would divide for them. According to Acts v. 36 (which seems to refer to a different date), he secured about 400 followers. Cuspius Fadus sent a troop of horsemen after him and his band, slew many of them, and took captive others, together with their leader, beheading the latter ("Ant." xx. 5, § 1).
Another, an Egyptian, is said to have gathered together 30,000 adherents, whom he summoned to the Mount of Olives, opposite Jerusalem, promising that at his command the walls of Jerusalem would fall down, and that he and his followers would enter and possess themselves of the city. But Felix, the procurator (c. 55-60), met the throng with his soldiery. The prophet escaped, but those with him were killed or taken, and the multitude dispersed (ib. xx. 8, § 6; "B. J." ii. 13, § 5; see also Acts xxi. 38). Another, whom Josephus styles an impostor, promised the people "deliverance and freedom from their miseries" if they would follow him to the wilderness. Both leader and followers were killed by the troops of Festus, the procurator (60-62; "Ant." xx. 8, § 10). Even when Jerusalem was already in process of destruction by the Romans, a prophet, according to Josephus suborned by the defenders to keep the people from deserting announced that God commanded them to come to the Temple, there to receive miraculous signs of their deliverance. Those who came met death in the flames ("B. J." vi. 5, § 3). (taken from

One of Satan's most adroit strategies for disguising his working (and thereby deceiving folk from recognizing the truth) is duplication. Unable to silence the declarations of the Lord Jesus, he sought to trivialize them by having numerous "messiahs" making similar claims. Bereft of spiritual discernment, the gullible multitudes drifted from one to another, confused, desperate for relief from Roman domination.

Amid this morass of disillusionment, the Lord Jesus proclaimed repeatedly that He had been sent from the Father. A study of how often He made this statement reveals how important it was to Him that the people understand and embrace it. For, however some interpreters have tried to lesssen its impact by saying He was only claiming the role of a great Prophet, those who sought to take His life understood very clearly what He meant: "I am the Messiah, God in human form!"

But note! Although they had access (He was within their grasp), opportunity (no Roman soldiers on the scene) and means (plenty of stones as well as men), there was no execution. Try as they might (and you know they did!), He remained unharmed.

Of the many explanations possible, John tells us it was a matter of timing (!) For, walking in the absolute center of the Father's will, as He always did, the Lord Jesus not only did what the Father willed, and where at all times, but when, as well. And in the providential sovereignty of the Father's plan, He would not be killed prematurely, or in any other way than crucifixion. Why? In order that the Scripture be fulfilled (John 19:24, 25, 28, 36, 37). His every word, work, attitude, and impulse was supremely submitted to the authority of Scripture.

Praise to His Name, such a Savior!