Kairos Time – Appointment with Death

Kairos Time – Appointment with Death

Kairos Time – Appointment with Death.

KAIROS: (Greek, kahee-ros); an ancient Greek term for “time” that has been defined and described in many ways. New Testament Kairos means time, the right time, not just any time. The other Greek word for time is chronos, which is simply the linear measurement of time, as in the word chronology. Chronos has to do with quantity of time, while Kairos has to do with quality of time. Chronos refers to the sheer presence of time, but Kairos refers to the presence of timeliness. One can see different aspects of the effects of Kairos time depending on the situation. There are three angles of Kairos as we look at “kairos time” in the New Testament:

  1. Kairos means a timely opportunity; the fitting time for action; the right time to get involved; the proper time to act or decide something; a moment whose time has come; a time to respond because things have come to a head (kairos is related to the Greek word for head, “kara”); a particular time when a crisis has created an opportunity.
  2. Kairos is God-time; the appointed time appointed by God; a sacred time for God to act; the opportune time when the Holy Spirit is moving someone into action; the moment of truth when the Spirit of God is inspiring the right word or action for the occasion; the right, fitting time to accomplish God’s will. One sacred example would be the Judeo-Christian believer honoring the Sabbath as God’s appointed time once a week, which sanctifies the day and enables the believer to experience Kairos time.
  3. Kairos time can be experienced by someone who has lost track of time, who are in a state of mind in which they are not even aware of chronos time but fully enveloped in Kairos time. Examples would be monks during contemplation, artists while sculpting or painting; authors when writing; musicians when composing or performing; children while playing; worshipers while engaged in divine singing; gardeners while working in their gardens. Kairos is when someone loses track of time when in a state of inspiration or concentrated activity. When so inspired, time goes by so fast that they are completely unaware of the passage of time. For those in Kairos time in a peak of creative or inspired activity, chronos time seems irrelevant. (the primary reference: author Madelein L’Engle, from her memoir, Walking on Water).

“His sarcastic brothers were pushing Jesus like that because they were skeptical and didn’t believe their brother to be the Messiah. So Jesus said to them, “My time (Kairos) is not yet here, but your time (Kairos) is always here – You have nothing to lose. They don’t hate you like they do me. The world has nothing against you, but it despises me because I expose its deeds of evil. You go ahead, go up to the Feast yourselves. I don’t go up to this Festival because my time (Kairos) has not yet fully come.” (John 7:1-8).

God’s timetable with Jesus had been a closely guarded secret between them. Jesus had a mission to accomplish, and He was going to follow God’s schedule every step of the way. The Son will not go out on His own. Everything He does is in concert with the wishes of the Father. Jesus is the most obedient Son in the history of the universe. During His entire ministry in the flesh, Jesus perfectly followed the plans of the Father. “The Son would rather do the Father’s will than His own.” (Mark 14:36); “He only does what pleases the Father.” (John 8:29). The truth is, Jesus doesn’t speak a word, perform a miracle, or take a step without the approval of the Father. The schedule that would end with Jesus’ Passion, death and resurrection will be followed by Jesus, no matter what.

Jesus knew intuitively that His kairos time, the God-appointed time for Jesus’ sacrifice, had not yet come. It was not yet time according to the Father’s timetable, and that’s that. But then comes an interesting, mystifying series of events soon after His conversation with His brothers. Jesus did end up going to Jerusalem for the Feast after all, but He went privately, in secret, so no one would know that He was even there. When the Feast was half-over, Jesus began to teach publicly in the Temple, raising quite a lot of controversy in the process. Then on the last day, Jesus quite dramatically stood up in the Temple when He knew those present would be at their highest number, and yells out loudly to come to Him, the source of living water, the fulfillment of Isaiah! If Jesus didn’t think it was the right time to make a splash in Jerusalem at the beginning of the Feast, then He must have been following the Father’s instructions later when He arrived at the Temple half-way through all the festivities. And He indeed seemed to go out of His way to make quite a public spectacle of Himself. The Temple leadership, of course, took great exception to Jesus, to what He declared in front of everyone. Jesus claimed to be the fulfillment of Scripture! That was rather religiously scandalous. But a leading Jewish authority, Nicodemus, advocated for Jesus in front of his fellow leaders, and Jesus was able to walk away unscathed. His time had not yet come to begin His Passion and His slow walk to the Cross.

It doesn’t take much brainwork to figure out that God’s timetable, God-time, is not about to be discerned by us mere humans. We just won’t be able to understand God’s thinking as He determines His schedule for events. This was confirmed earlier at the Cana wedding. It was clear that mother Mary thought Jesus could  do something about the fact that the wine had run out. And Jesus replied that His hour (hora, not Kairos) had not yet come (John 2:4). And then, lo and behold, it appears that Jesus changed His mind and produced more than enough vintage wine for everyone to enjoy at the wedding! Perhaps He was thinking initially that He didn’t want to do anything that might unnecessarily provoke the religious authorities. But evidently this was not Kairos time, a God-appointed time that was not negotiable with the Father. Perhaps Jesus felt free to be more flexible with His first miracle. Perhaps He didn’t want the groom’s father to be humiliated running out of wine. Maybe Jesus decided that Cana was more or less a backwoods village and rather isolated, so a miracle wouldn’t necessarily bring a lot of attention. It could be Jesus already knew He was going to produce the wine, but He was just teasing His mother like a good Jewish boy.

Perhaps Jesus didn’t want to dampen the joy that was the centerpiece of every Jewish wedding. Joy was always the common denominator at Jewish weddings. Festive dancing and singing was the order of the day and expected of all guests. This joy was irrepressible, and it was biblical. Jeremiah loved to talk about the “joyful voice of bridegroom and bride.” (Jer. 7:34); “the happy singing and laughter” of the wedding (Jer. 16:9); “the sounds of joy and laughter.” (Jer. 33:11). At the feast, the more the merrier, with the whole village being invited. So the fact that Jesus was present at a wedding was significant. He not only confirmed the sanctity of marriage, affirming it as being an honorable institution, but this event reveals a Jesus who enjoyed social interaction. He went out of His way to celebrate friendship, fellowship, interaction with others. Jesus was indeed full of joy, and He wants us to enjoy life as well. “I have told you these things so that you will be filled with joy. Yes, your joy will overflow.” (John 15:11). Jesus desires for each of us to live with a spirit of merriment, just like Him. Joy is a quality that is mentioned right after love in the “fruit of the Spirit,” in Galatians 5. In many ways, joy is our most dependable and accurate foretaste of heaven. In the miracle of Cana, Jesus knew how to spread the joy.

Maybe Jesus didn’t want to detract from the wedding’s deeper purpose, to remind everyone of the Covenant, the marriage contract between God and His people on Mt. Sinai, as well as the Messianic Banquet later on. Jewish weddings were a highlight of the year. The wedding itself affirmed the union of man and woman during God’s creation. Marriage was an act of obedience to God’s command to be fruitful and multiply should God bless the couple with children. And the wedding was a symbol of God’s union with His bride Israel, the marriage covenant being made at Mt. Sinai long ago with Moses officiating. So that is something to celebrate, for sure. The wedding feast following the wedding was a week-long celebration of the joining of two people, and the joining of two families as well. The feast was more like a festival, and was seen as a foretaste of the Messianic Feast at the end of the age. The Messianic Meal was a raucous celebration of the beginning of God’s rule in the world, the successful presence of the Messiah. So every wedding feast was experienced in that light, an echo of when the whole world would celebrate the defeat of wickedness and the joy of life eternal with Yahweh. Isaiah 25 was on the minds of everyone at the Jewish wedding feast. “In Jerusalem, the Lord of Hosts will spread a wonderful feast for all the people of the world. It will be a delicious banquet with clear, well-aged wine and choice meat. There He will remove the cloud of gloom, the shadow of death that hangs over the earth. He will swallow up death forever! The Sovereign Yahweh will wipe away all tears. He will remove forever all insults and mockery against His land and people. Yahweh has spoken!” (Isaiah 25:6-8)The wedding feast was an important picture of the joyful destiny of the Jewish people, and so the wedding guests invested themselves in the merriment wholeheartedly. It’s not surprising that one would hear someone exclaim this common sentiment at a wedding feast: “What a blessing it will be to attend the banquet in the Kingdom of God!” (Luke 14:15). Just as wine at the Messianic Feast was prophesied center stage, woe unto any wedding host that ran out of the wine for the feast! That borders on anti-biblical!

Whatever His reasons in Cana, He decided the time was ripe for a nice little, quiet miracle there at a little out of the way place that wouldn’t conflict with the Father’s schedule set for Him. Jesus embodies all the wisdom of the universe, so we can trust Him to change His mind when He wants to.

We do read later in the gospel story that Jesus was fully aware of when His Kairos time had come, when the fullness of time had arrived in God’s schedule.

  1. My Kairos time has come,” just before He acquires the donkey reserved just for Him for His grand entrance on Palm Sunday ( 26:18);
  2. “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified,” soon after His grand entrance into Jerusalem to the shouts of ‘Hosanna to the King of Israel!” (John 12:23);
  3. “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may also glorify you…I have finished the work which you have given me to do…” (John 17:1, 4).
  4. ‘It is finished!” These were the last words of Jesus as He died on the Cross. (John 19:30).