This weekend we kick off our Advent series at LifePoint: The Hour Has Come.
We have taken this series title from John’s gospel, and we’ll spend the first three weeks of December examining the Advent themes of LOVE, HOPE, and JOY from the third and fourth chapters of John.
But first, what is this “hour has come” theme all about? If you’ve read the gospels, you may recognize the phrase, because it is used in all four gospels by Jesus and about Jesus.
The Greek word hora is translated “hour” in a lot of contexts, which is a good rendering in English, because the biblical writers use it to describe a range of concepts that parallel our use of the word “hour.”
For instance, we would use “hour” to refer to a specific segment of time, or hour in the day, as in “Yesterday at Noon.” This is exactly the way hora is used in Mark 15:25: “It was the third hour when they crucified him.” Matthew 8:13 is another example, “His servant was healed at that very hour.”
We also use “hour” to refer to “an appointed time” for something to occur. My wife and I are looking forward to that “hour” in which our 4th daughter will be born. This is another way hora is used by the NT writers. Luke 12:12: “For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that hour what you are to say.”
The word hora appears in every gospel, but John uses it most:
Matthew: 22 times
Mark: 12 times
Luke: 17 times
John: 27 times
A third (and very important) way that hora is used in the NT is one that is a little trickier for us to understand. In reference to the redemptive work of Jesus, “hour” is used to describe the time where a significant redemptive event is going to occur. We would probably use the word “time” or “moment” or even “day” or “chance” to refer to this concept in English. Such as, “This is your moment!” or “It’s our time now!” Who can forget this epic Goonies scene?
If Sean Astin were speaking Koine Greek in that scene, he would likely have used the word hora, as in “it’s our hour” or “our hour has come.”
Although all the gospel writers use hora in this way, I have found that John’s gospel has a stronger concentration not only of hora, but of hora used to refer to Jesus’ redemptive acts, or future events resulting from Jesus’ redemptive work.
- John 2:4: “My hour has not yet come…”
- John 4:21: “The hour is coming…”
- John 5:25: “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming…”
- John 7:30: But no one laid a hand on him (Jesus), for his hour had not yet come.
- John 8:20: …but no one arrested him (Jesus), for his hour had not yet come.
- John 12:23: “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”
- John 13:1: Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world…
- John 17:1: When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you…
This “hour” for Jesus seems to refer to the hour of his crucifixion, and all that results therein. It’s the hour of redemption, the hour of liberation, the hour upon which the salvation of sinners depends. The gospel writers give some amazing accounts of this hour– as darkness descends (Mark 15:33), the earth shakes (Matthew 27:51), the curtain in the temple is torn (Luke 23:45), and people who had died start coming back to life and walking out of tombs (Matthew 27:52-53).
This hour was the hour for which Jesus came into the world. The target of the incarnation was the cross. Jesus was born to die. And glory to God, death wasn’t the end. The cross led to the resurrection, followed by Jesus’ ascension, and the gift of the Holy Spirit to all who believe in Him.
As we celebrate Christmas in this hour (season), we must remember the target of the incarnation. In the beauty of the cross we see the love of God, experience a living hope, and come to know the great joy found only in Jesus.
 Friberg’s lexicon would define this sense of hora as “a limited or measured segment of time.”
 Greek geeks may argue that Astin would have used kairos which means “appointed time,” but that’s a debate for another day.