The Holy Spirit’s way of explaining why Jesus was able to avoid what looked like certain death was to simply say, “His hour had not yet come” (see John 7:30 and John 8:20). This explanation reminds us how Jesus was able to continue with His ministry even in the face of opposition, because He knew that everything in His life operated exactly according to His Father’s schedule, and it wasn’t time for Him to leave this earth. He was confident in His Father’s purpose, and so His face was “set like flint.” He lived confident in His Father’s perfect plan, no matter what the outward circumstances looked like.
But then there is a specific moment when Jesus realizes that the time has
come. It says in John 12:20-21, 23
, “Now there were some Greeks among those who were going up to worship at the feast; these then came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and began to ask him, saying, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus."...
And Jesus answered them, saying, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”
That is a pretty significant shift!
The hour had not yet come...
The hour had not yet come...
The hour has come!
This made me think, “What’s going to change?” He’s been able to operate so freely, to move so confidently, and continue His ministry so uninterruptedly at all times, all because His hour had not come. But what will happen now?
It’s easy to imagine, because we know how we handle things when “the time has come” for some long-awaited event:
In school, when final exams season comes, we start cramming. We wouldn’t expect anybody to be taking road trips or catching late night movies the day before final exams, because when the time comes, we only do what’s absolutely essential. Same with a wedding — on the wedding day itself, the bride is not going to make a quick grocery run, or do an oil change on her car. Why? Because the time for the wedding has come. When the time has come, only what’s most essential can be attended to; there’s no time for anything unnecessary.
So what about Jesus? Once He knew that the time had passed for anything other than the absolute necessities, what did He do?
“Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.”
John 13:1 NASB
This is an amazing statement — He didn’t change anything! He had been doing what was most important all along! “Having loved them, He kept on loving them.”
To Jesus, the most essential thing to do in the short time that remained was to love His brothers. This is a tremendous challenge to me. I want to have that same attitude towards my brothers as well, as the time draws to a close, as this world comes to an end. And I want this to be our mission statement, too: having loved each other, we keep on loving, steadfast to the end.
And like Jesus, I want to make that my priority not only for when the time comes, but for now, so that when the time does come, I won’t need to make any adjustments. I want my whole life to demonstrate Christ’s priorities (and His emphasis on loving His brothers), just like His did.
I have to admit that I have unknowingly hardened myself against the idea of loving, even in the context of the church. Because of the ways in which the world wrongly emphasizes carnal love, and the wrong idea of the universal brotherhood of humanity, I find in my heart that I’m slightly resistant to exhortations to love others — I don’t really dive in full of confidence. Because I see how wrongly such instructions have been misinterpreted, I wrongly de-emphasize the command to love as He loved (John 13:34-35).
But seeing Jesus’ example here, I see how far I have fallen short of the attitude of Christ. He felt that loving His brothers was so important that He had no hesitation to “love them to the end,” and I must do the same.
Thankfully, Scripture is not silent about how
Jesus loved His brothers to the end. John 13-17
describes the ways in which He loved them in great detail. The example that Jesus gives of loving to the end is that of selfless service (John 13:3-17
), of brotherly exhortation (John 13:31-16:33
includes comfort, instruction, warning, and promises of God’s provision), and intercession (John 17:1-26
). His example is meant to be our definition of loving one another.
So when I consider how to follow Jesus in loving my own brothers to the very end, I see clearly that I should seek to serve them, to encourage them, and to pray for them. I can do these things confident that I am following in the footsteps of Jesus, Who continued in this way even when “the time had come.”
If Jesus felt this was so important that He continued in His love, unchanged, even when He knew that “the time had come” for Him to return to the Father, then I can be confident that I too can continue steadfast in love for my brothers, until the time has come for Christ to return.