"For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly."
Romans 5:6 (ESV)
Steve had trouble getting up in the morning and was always late for work. After a few weeks of showing up late, his boss, Mr. Thompson, called Steve into his office and threatened to fire him if he didn't start getting to work right on time.
So Steve went to his doctor who gave him a pill and told him to take it before he went to bed. Steve got a great night's sleep and actually woke up before the alarm in the morning. After a leisurely breakfast, he drove cheerfully to work.
"Mr. Thompson," he said, "the pill my doctor subscribed me actually worked!"
"That's all fine," said Thompson, "But where were you yesterday?!"
A wise man or woman once said, "God is never late, but seldom early." Whoever said that was keenly aware of one of our biggest struggles: patience. We want God to act, and we want him to act on our timetable.
We get frustrated in prayer when the answers seem slow in coming. We feel anxious when healing takes longer than we expected. We want the people we love to come to saving faith in Jesus, but hearts seem to remain hardened toward God. We could go on and on.
God doesn't work on our schedules, as much as we might want. He works on his own timetable.
The Apostle Paul wrote these words, and notice what he says: at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. And it’s to that time, the right time, that we need to hear God speak clearly.
There are two words used in the Greek New Testament to describe time. The first is CHRONOS.
CHRONOS means time measured in seconds and minutes, minutes and hours, hours and days, days and weeks, weeks and months, months and years, years and decades and centuries and millennia. It is the ticking of a clock, the sound of your alarm, the sands of an hourglass. It is the word from which we get our word, chronology.
And in that sense, Jesus did die at the right time. You see, the prophets of the Old Testament were remarkably specific concerning Jesus. They testified to his person, his work, and even the timing of his coming.
However, that's not the word choice that the Spirit inspired Paul to use here. Instead, the Spirit breathed KAIROS. KAIROS isn't about seconds and minutes; it's the time of fulfillment, the time when everything is ready - just right.
Meticulously, God prepared the world to receive Jesus Christ. Through the Old Testament prophets of Israel, he gradually revealed the person and work of Jesus Christ. He gradually revealed the specific ancestry of the Messiah, the nation, tribe, and family from which he would arise. He also gradually revealed the specific place of his birth, the price of his betrayal, his suffering, death, and resurrection, and more. Slowly and steadily, God primed Israel to receive her promised Messiah.
However, God's providence also prepared the world to receive Jesus and the message of the gospel - the good news that we can be forgiven and reconciled to God through him. Due to the conquests of Alexander the Great, much of the world shared a common language - Greek, the language of the New Testament. The Pax Romana, or Peace of Rome, insured a fairly stable civilization in which gospel messengers could travel elaborate Roman roads safely and more. Examples could be easily multiplied. Bottom line: the world was ready because God made sure it was ready.
Child of God: God might seem late in answering your prayers and fulfilling his plans for you, but remember: though seldom early, he's never late. He's right on time. God is orchestrating all things for your ultimate good, working out more than you could realize or fathom. As one of my favorite pastors says, "If you knew what God knew, you'd want what God wants." Persevere. He's working it all out for his glory which, because of Jesus, always and invariably means your ultimate good. Hold on! It's coming - at just the right time.
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