In his God-given wisdom and by the direction of the Holy Spirit, Solomon wrote a wonderful and poetic discourse on God’s use of time. He begins, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven…” Then, after listing several “times,” the Preacher extols God’s use of time, saying, “He has made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 11).
As we consider the gospel of John, it is interesting to note the multiple references to a particular “hour” in Jesus’ life. In all but one case, the hour under consideration would seem to be the hour of His death. He knew that this hour would come; He came into the world for this hour. Let’s notice these texts.
At the wedding feast in Cana of Galilee, the supply of wine ran out. Mary mentioned the lack of wine to Jesus, who responded, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come” (John 2:4). By the end of the account, the guests were drinking the best wine ever to be poured. This is the one occasion when the hour mentioned is not associated with His death. It may be His manifestation to the public by miracles that He spoke of. Or, even more precisely, He may have been waiting for it to be known that the wine had failed, so that without doubt, this miracle “manifested His glory” (John 2:11).
In the beginning of John 7, we are told Jesus spent His time in Galilee, for the Jews in Judea sought to kill Him. With that setting, the instruction of Jesus’ brothers, “…Depart from here and go into Judea…” is entirely cruel. John explains to us, “For even His brothers did not believe in Him” (John 7:5).
Jesus’ response was prompt, “My time has not yet come…” (John 7:6). It was not time for Him to die yet. He did go to the feast, but not in such a way as to give the Jewish leaders an opportunity against Him (John 7:10). It is not that Jesus feared the scribes and Pharisees or that He didn’t trust the Lord’s care—He refused to yield to a temptation of the devil (John 7:3-4; Matthew 4:5-7).
After arriving in Judea, Jesus spoke with the leaders before the people. He defended His teaching (John 7:16-18), and inquired about their intent to kill Him (John 7:19-20, 25-26). Though “they sought to take Him … no one laid a hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come” (John 7:30). It was not yet time for Him to die.
At the same feast, the Jews brought a woman who had been caught in adultery to Him, “…testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him” (John 8:6). He passed their test and defended Himself against their accusations “…and no one laid hands on Him, for His hour had not yet come” (John 8:20). It was not yet time for Him to die.
In the final year of Jesus’ ministry, after He had raised Lazarus from the dead, the council in Jerusalem gathered to discuss what they should do about Him. Caiaphas urged that they should put Him to death (John 11:47-50). “Now this he did not say on his own authority; but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die…” (John 11:51). His time was fast approaching.
Jesus knew from the beginning of His ministry that He was to die for the people. Now as the time approached, He acknowledged that it was soon time for Him to be crucified. When Mary anointed His feet with costly oil, and His disciples balked at the waste, He defended her, “…she has kept this for the day of My burial. For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always” (John 12:7-8). He knew that the time was at hand.
On the next day, Jesus was received by the crowd in Jerusalem as “…the King of Israel!” (John 12:13). Jesus knew, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified” (John 12:23). That He is speaking about His death is evident, for He would shortly thereafter say, “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name” (John 12:27-28). His speech in the context clearly shows that He knew the time was at hand—His hour had come.
Again, John acknowledges this important hour as Jesus and His disciples gathered “…before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father…” (John 13:1). Later that night, Jesus would be arrested, and the next morning, He would be crucified.
Having left the upper room in which the feast was shared, Jesus went out to the garden to pray. More of Jesus’ prayer is given in John’s account than any other gospel. In John 17:1, Jesus began, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son may glorify You…” He was ready to go to the cross, that God would be glorified, and mankind might be sanctified and justified in Him.
Why is all this important? What benefit is there in this for us? As Solomon said, “He made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Through this appointed hour—the hour of Jesus’ death, and the subsequent resurrection three days later—God has provided the means whereby all individuals, though stained by sin, might be made pure and holy, and have the hope of heaven. What a wonderful hour!