Have you considered what it means to live in a “Not Yet” time? Consider Jesus’ disciples.
Steeped in the ancient Judaism of prophets like Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Isaiah, the fishermen and others who became Jesus’ disciples lived in expectation of the coming Messiah — descended from the line of King David, who would usher in a new age of God-awareness, peace, no Roman governors, renewed worship.
Some of the twelve were first disciples of John the Baptist. They were there when John was badgered about being the promised Messiah.
John was unequivocal: “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.” (John 1:26-27)
John knew that the Messiah-time was at hand. The very next day John pointed out Jesus, and some of his own followers did more than take note. “Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said …. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah.” (John 1: 40-41)
Jesus invited twelve to follow him. Eagerly they joined Jesus’ journey:
- of turning water to wine,
- of clearing the temple courts in Jerusalem of money changers during celebration of Passover,
- of visiting the Samaritan town of Sychar where many believed,
- of miracles of healing,
- of feeding five thousand,
- of walking on water and
- of many teachings through parables.
But then! — We learn that Jesus became reluctant to attend the Festival of Tabernacles in Jerusalem. This was ancient Israel’s thanksgiving celebration for their delivery by God from slavery in Egypt – their religious event of the year!
The Gospel writer, John, reports:
“After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him. But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” For even his own brothers did not believe in him.” “Therefore Jesus told them, “My time is not yet here; for you any time will do. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil. You go to the festival. I am not going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.” After he had said this, he stayed in Galilee.” (John 7:1-9) The long-promised Messiah was present among them, but his real purpose had not yet come. Can you feel the tension the disciples must have felt? We have the Messiah! But the Messiah says not yet. This was not the first time that Jesus had cautioned his followers that his presence among them was not his real purpose. Back in Cana at the wedding that ran out of wine he had responded to his mother’s hint to do something about the shortage: “Woman, why do you involve me? My hour has not yet come.” But he did turn water into wine. Jesus was the fulfilment of the ancient Jewish longing for a Messiah — but he was also so much more — just not yet. Jesus’ hesitancy about going to the Festival of Tabernacles faded. John goes on to tell us: “However, after his brothers had left for the festival, he went also, not publicly, but in secret …. Not until halfway through the festival did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach.” (John 7:10 & 14) And teach he did — about himself, the Son of God. This angered the Pharisees. They tried to have Jesus arrested. “…. but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come.” (John 7:30) In due time, Jesus’ hour did come: the cross, the tomb, the empty tomb — his great work of salvation. Not yet did not mean no Messiah. Not yet did not mean never a Messiah. Not yet meant yes a Messiah who was so much more than imagined by the ancient promises! We, in our time, also live with not yet. Jesus’ great work of salvation, completed long ago, came with a promise — a promise made to His disciples. “After he (Jesus) said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. “They (the disciples) were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts1:9-11) Not yet for 2000 years does not mean no coming back. Not yet for 2000 years does not mean never coming back. Not yet for 2000 years does mean Jesus will come back — as He promised His disciples, and this too will be so much more than we can imagine.