After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:Father, the hour has come.John 17:1a
The hour has come. With these words Jesus looks forward with obvious anticipation to a time of boundless opportunity that lies before him. Surely these words,
the hour has come, mean a good deal more than the phrase we employ when we face the end of life,
My time has come. By that we mean we have come to the end of our rope, the end of life. Dr. J. Vernon McGee once told of a man who had been studying through the doctrine of predestination and had become so entranced by the idea of God's sovereign protection of the believer under any and every circumstance that he said to Dr. McGee,
You know, I am so convinced that God is keeping me no matter what I do, that I think that I could step right out into the midst of the busiest traffic at noontime and, if my time had not come, I would be perfectly safe. Dr. McGee said, very characteristically,
Well, if you go down and stand in the middle of traffic at noontime, brother, your time has come!
To use a phrase like,
my time has come is resignation, but this is not what Jesus does. What he is speaking of here is realization. He is speaking of the time he had been looking forward to all his life. Throughout His ministry, Jesus continually refers to this
hour. In the beginning of John we have the story of the first miracle in Cana of Galilee when he turned the water into wine. There his mother came to him and said,
Son, they have no wine, and his answer was,
Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come, (John 2:3-4 KJV). He meant that, though he would perform what his mother had suggested, it would not have the results that she anticipated, for the hour had not yet come, the time had not struck. Repeatedly he said to the disciples,
My hour is not yet, (John 7:30, 8:20). He was awaiting a time when opportunity would abound, and now, as he comes to the cross, he lifts his eyes unto the heavens and says,
Father, the hour has come. By that he meant the hour had come in which all that he had lived for would begin to be fulfilled.
This was an anticipation based upon the principle, as he once put it,
unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. (John 12:24). This is why his hour had not come previously, for Jesus knew that God's work is never accomplished apart from the principle of death, that all that he did of mighty miracles and all his mighty words, all the marvelous power of his ministry among men would be totally ineffective until he had passed through the experience of giving up all that he was. Unless this corn of wheat dies, it remains alone; it never will do anything else; it cannot! Only when it dies does it bring forth fruit.
This is why we also must pray this prayer, for we are always coming to hours like this in our own lives. We come to places where we must say, with Jesus,
Father, the hour has come — the hour where I must make a choice as to whether I shall hold my life for myself to act in self-centeredness as I have been doing all along, or whether I shall fling it away, and, passing into what is apparent death, lay hold of the hope and the glory and the realization that lies beyond it. These hours are always coming to us. For us they are disappointments, setbacks, tragedies. Here is where God works his best in us, but we think of him as invading our privacy, our right to live our own lives. Yet if we see them as Jesus saw them, we will recognize that each moment like this is an hour of great possibility which, if we will act on the principle of giving away ourselves, we shall discover an open door to a vast and an almost unimaginable realm of service and blessing and glory. That is what Jesus means when he says
The hour is come. It was a time of abounding opportunity.
Father, strike away the shackles of my unbelief and teach me to make the choice to die to myself in hope and faith that this will result in blessing and glory.
If we ask, 'What would Jesus do?', we must be prepared to be the grain of wheat that dies in order to bear fruit to His glory and our Joy. Do we consider each of our circumstances opportunities to die with Christ in order to live in the power of His indwelling Life?