Friday, December 21, 2007
Kairos in Luke
Spending some time going through Luke, I noticed a greek word at the beginning of the book: kairos. It is usually translated "time," meaning a specific time period rather than just a general reference to time (aka "appointed time," "proper time," "favorable time," "this season"). ["Chronos" is the word for a general reference to time.] Kairos carries with it the notion of a moment or period that is especially appropriate ("this is the special time that is not like other times"). Ultimately, I love the connotation of our word "season" in expressing this word kairos.
So, I noticed this word in Luke 1:20. This word lead me to explore the other uses in the book of Luke. With there being thirteen uses of this word in Luke (1:20; 4:13; 8:13-2; 12:42, 56; 13:1; 18:30; 19:44; 20:10; 21:8, 24, 36), I would like to briefly mention half of those as the most meaningful ones for Luke's purposes (1:20; 4:13; 12:56; 19:44; 21:24, 36). I will expand on and apply this in later posts.
Luke 1:20 introduces us to the notion of a special "season" on the horizon in the words of Gabriel. He announces to Zachariah that he will not be able to speak because he did not believe Gabriel's words, that will be fulfilled in their season. The right time will come when these words will come true. The reader is left wondering what season is about to come. The story of John, especially in light of Jesus continues. Even when this "season" emerges a few verses later in 1:57-66, we see the newness of the season where "the hand of the Lord" is at work. Zechariah's prophesy (1:67-79) shows what kind of season we see beginning in John.
As the story of Jesus emerges, specifically with his spirit-filled journey into the desert (4:1-13), the reader is wondering what is about to happen, is this another season. Jesus is baptized by John (3:21), the Spirit comes down on Jesus (3:22), a voice from heaven announces Jesus' sonship, and we learn that Jesus' ministry is beginning (3:23). Satan, it seems, is thinking about the timing of everything. I imagine him wondering is this the season? Through the temptations Satan does what he can to disrupt the season of God's salvation (remember Zechariah's song in 1:69). After the failed attempt, we see Satan leaving to wait for a better season. Satan's season, he might reason, will come about at another time...just not now.
Jesus' ministry continues. God continues to work out his season first prophesied through Zechariah. In chapter twelve we find Jesus speaking more about the season in which the people find themselves. Don't be like the Pharisee's (12:3ff.), fear what the world fears (12:4ff.), or worry about your life (12:22ff). Instead, be ready like the faithful servant (12:35-48). The season is upon you. Once we come to 12:54, the reader is forced to consider the season Jesus offers. We know how to discern the appearance of the earth and sky (aka "the natural seasons we've experienced from birth"). But, in 12:56 Jesus questions whether we are able to discern this season of which he speaks.
This question continues as Jesus' kingdom proclamation continues. It is still present, but in a much more focused, tearful way, as he enters Jerusalem for the last time (19:41-44). The people don't know what can bring them peace. Jerusalem and all those people "among you" (ev soi) will fall. The reason is that you did not know the season you are in, the season that God visits you.
As Jesus' earthly ministry nears the end, he pointedly speaks of the season. Some will say "I am" and "The season is near!" (21:8) but don't follow them. He unpacks what will be happening at the end of the ages. Then, perhaps, the most interesting statement Jesus makes (that I initially don't see much written about): Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the season of the Gentiles is fulfilled (21:24). I really don't know exactly what this entails. Maybe Luke has adopted Paul's ideology from Romans 11:25. Luke's "gospel to the Gentiles" may really expose his intentions in this comment, but I haven't spent enough time researching this.
The final comment about the season is a fitting end. Jesus encourages his disciples to "Keep yourself awake all season long" (21:36). The season of God's presence is here. You need to be alert and ready to recognize and discern this wherever you find yourself, no matter the season.
This is a long endeavor that deserves more attention. I hope to expand these initial observations and hopefully engage Luke's emphasis on the coming of the kingdom of God. This certainly is linked to the season of Jesus' life on earth. Application of this discussion to our lives is also necessary. I look forward to your comments and conversations about the season.