March 27, 2011

The Nick In Time: Kairos / καιρός

And Jesus answered them, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." John 12:23-24

While reviewing Chapters 1 through 9 in the Gospel of John, I tried to pick a specific incident that appealed to me among all the others but to no avail. Dividing Jesus is an impossible feat. What I did find appealing and was convicted to write about was a concept pointed out in Chapters 7 and 8—καιρός. So I’ve settled on a concept rather than a specific story or event since this concept encompasses multiple events.

In Koine Greek there are two different designations of the idea of time. There is chronos / χρόνος and this word/concept is that of a time over a period or increment. It describes a period measured by passage of time and/or a succession of objects and events and shows a passing of moments. A mobile time over a possible stretch of time. Chronos embraces all possible Kairos. Chronos is denoted by the hour, kairos the seconds of the hour. Chronos the year, kairos the day of the year.

Kairos / καιρός on the other hand is the oppurtune time. It is not merely succession of minutes, hours or days like chronos / χρόνος but rather the perfect time. As such there is no equivelant word in English. It is an appointed time. It is the time referred to in Ecclesiastes when the teacher or Qohelet says there is a "time" for everything. This is the same type of time referred to when dealing with kairos. A punctiliar time. A moment in time. Static. The exact moment. The precise moment. God's perfect timing. The "nick" in time.

Chronos is quantitative, Kairos is qualitative.

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die..." Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

We see in chapters 7 and 8 the culmination of something that has been coming since before the foundations of the world and will last long after into eternity. It is the supreme moment when the forces of light and dark confront one another head-on in a cosmic event. In these chapters we begin to hear Jesus expound vehemently and say, “My hour has not yet come” in some form but it is also here, in these chapters, that the shift begins and we see that the hour will soon be upon Him (Ch.12). It is for that moment that He has come. It is the purpose for His kenosis/self-emptying which was actually Him taking on an additional attribute of being human as mentioned in Philippians 2:5-11, and the whole point of being a Suffering Servant nailed to the cross at Golgotha. It is now the paradigm begins to shift.

Like Jesus Christ Himself had His punctiliar moment in history, we too as Christians also have our kairos moment and it hangs motionless in time where our eternal salvation will rest precariously until we take hold of it. We are presented intellectually with the Cross of Christ and His Resurrection (which ironically is what Chapters 7 and 8 eventually leads to) and we are presented with a choice - a divine ultimatum.

We are called to accept or to reject Jesus and His sacrificial gift of love. Although the decision is transient, the consequences are eternal. We have a choice to love and accept Jesus for who/what He is and what He has done –or- we can reject Him.

When that decision is made it is momentous- it is καιρός.

Even if we don’t do it now, we will at some point before we die make this decision. Even a failure to make this decision is in itself a decision. It is a choice to reject by not accepting Jesus Christ. It is that moment in time on which the outcome of our eternal existence pivots. It is in that moment that we realize that Jesus is not only the vehicle or means of salvation but that His work in time or history, like our decision in time and history are inextricably and inescapably linked. We realize that Jesus Christ is the linchpin of salvation and time. Without which neither could or would exist (Hebrews 1:1-3). For us time is linear but for God, time is always RIGHT NOW. It is man that needs to live in two distinct sets of time but for God it is always καιρός not χρόνος. God is καιρός. No matter where God is or when God is, He is Supreme. God gives time it’s very meaning.

When Jesus came incarnate he subjected Himself not only to the physical aspects of human existence but also to the linear and chronological aspects of human existence. As Abraham J. Heschel once said about time in his book “The Sabbath”: “We must never forget that it is not the thing that lends significance to the moment; it is the moment that lends significance to things”. Obviously, Christ’s work or the “thing” as Heschel alludes, is of supreme importance but even more so is its chronological/historical context. It is the fact that Jesus enters time and history in human form to suffer the humiliation of the cross and the things leading up to it that make His sacrifice so significant.

"But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law..." Galatians 4:4

He takes on an additional attribute of humanness so that He, “… shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death (the Devil).” It was done so that He could, “free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death”. For this reason he had to be made like us, human in every way including being subject to suffering and time. He became High Priest to make a once-and-for-all, “atonement for the sins of the people”. Jesus did this at a specific point in time so that it was done permanently…forever. Having done this, Jesus freed all believers of another moment in time that holds them prisoner from the moment they’re born -Death.

The only way for God to become human as Jesus is to come into time. To show humanity without a doubt that He is the Messiah spoken of by the Prophets in the past and teach personally or first-hand the differences between right and wrong in His ministry so there would be no excuses for bad decision-making. Having done this he would then proffer His hand only to have a nail driven through it to save them from their sin and to die at “thee” perfect moment ordained- καιρός. He would then rise from the tomb at “thee” perfectly ordained moment in time- καιρός. If He is still rejected after all this, the people having been fully informed…are without excuse. Even better than the evidences of Creation, they will have their own Messiah stand right before them. If they then reject Him…they’re condemned.

This is exactly what we see in Chapters 7 & 8. Jesus goes to Jerusalem and makes His presence public for all to see. Some see Jesus and accept Him, others do not. We see a series of critical moments unfold in these chapters and this is the tension that begins to mount in Chapter 7. “At that point [in time]” John 7:25… people begin to ask questions about Jesus’ identity. Those that hate Jesus and what He has to say hate Him because He confronts them in time with the Kingdom and they do not know how to handle it (W. Smith). Those that reject Him, want Him dead. Regardless, it is as if time itself is too small for His presence. He makes people uncomfortable solely because of His presence and holiness in time and history. It is those that have made themselves their own authority, their own god through legalism that reject the Real Thing who is Jesus Christ. I for one have seen Jesus for whom He really is and my eternity beyond time is secure because of it.

I have encountered Jesus at my καιρός and accepted what He did at His καιρός.

What time is it for you? Has your perfect time come?


Anonymous said...

And Jesus answered them, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." John 12:23-24

Verses like these can sometimes be difficult (for me anyway) to really get the gist of what is being said and why. The disciples are out during the feast of firstfruits and they meet some greeks that are also worshipping at the feast. The Greeks ask to see Jesus..

According to what we know, Jesus was famous. His fame went throughout the region according to Matt 4:24 and Mark 1:28.

So its not entirely odd that a bunch of strangers want to see Jesus.

What is a little odd at first glance is the response that Christ gives...
John 12:23 But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. 24 Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. 25 He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.

He doesn't ask His disciples to take Him to the Greeks, He doesn't seem to address their request to see Him at all.
The feast was the feast of firstfruits and Jesus was that grain that had come from the earth (mankind) and was now going to be lifted up high for all to see, Jesus was the firstfruits at that feast! (1 Cor 15:20)

Not only that but Jesus is explaining to Philip and Andrew that if a grain of wheat dies it produces much grain.
I believe that everything that the Lord said and did was with such purpose and perfection for an example to us. Jesus used this whole scenario to tell us something,, Something that He was and is always saying.
For example: “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain

The fruit is people. The fruit that should remain is the same fruit that Paul speaks of in 1 Cor 3:6-8
3:6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. 8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.

This chapter in 1 Corinthians speaks of each ones works becoming clear as the day will declare it,, because some that we preach the Gospel to will remain in the faith, and some will not. Some are hay, wood or stubble, and some are gold, silver, or precious stones..

See, in verse 5 Paul says: "Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed,"

Paul and Apollos are but ministers "THROUGH WHOM YOU BELIEVED" they are of the many grains of wheat that were produced because one fell into the earth and died, just as Jesus said back in John 12.

If the Greeks were to come to believe, it would be because more grains of seed were produced, it would be because Christ would go to the Cross and be buried and ascend, and give the Holy Spirit, and then those ministers (just like Paul and Apollos) would be sent to them to give them the Gospel, or plant the seed that God would increase!!

Andy Pierson said...

I agree, I've posted on this idea last year also. Glad someone else recognizes this. :P

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...