Why did Jesus come to earth when he did? Why not immediately after Adam and Eve sinned? Wouldn’t that have saved the world from centuries of pain? Or, why didn’t he come to the slaves in Egypt instead of sending Moses? Or, why not now? Why didn’t God choose to appear on earth to our confused, depressed, decadent Western World? Why then and why not now?
Scripture says, “When the right time came, God sent his Son” (Gal.4:4); elsewhere it reads, “While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom. 5:6). The Bible says God figured out that the perfect time—the exact right time in all of history for all of humanity— to appear on earth. And it was two thousand years ago. Why then?
I can imagine a few better times. How about when “each man did what was right in his own eyes;” or the centuries of worshiping idols in the “high places;” or during those same times when the wealthy oppressed the poor, widows, and orphans? Why not then?
Or what about when brutal Assyria and Babylon cold-bloodedly conquered, pillaged, and raped God’s chosen people, when enemies dashed their little ones against stones? Why not then?
Instead Jesus came when God’s people were the most righteous they’d ever been in their two thousand year history: there was no hint of any idolatry, the Scriptures were taught in every synagogue, and temple worship was practiced exactly as taught by the Bible.
Of all the evil and needy times in the history of God’s people, why was that the right time?
The Two Lives
Each of us lives two lives: we inhabit the husk of outer life that everyone sees, and we occupy an inner life known only to us. Remember the little boy Jimmy? His mother commands him, “Sit down;” she counts, “One … two … three ….” And the boy sits. Then he declares, “I may be sitting down on the outside, but I’m still standing up on the inside.”
On the outside you and I smile and proclaim our faith in God’s love. On the inside we are angry, easily hurt, or just confused. On the outside we succeed at work or raise obedient kids; on the inside we are driven by hidden, inner motivations of fear, need for recognition, childhood wounding, or a compulsion to prove that our lives matter.
Ever since the time of Adam and Eve, God commanded his people, Sit down!—“Don’t eat from that tree . . . Don’t commit adultery . . . Have no other gods before me”—and for centuries the people of God remained standing up: worshiping idols, oppressing the poor, and relying on their culture’s answers instead of God’s promises.
During the Roman occupation, God’s people finally sat down. But they continued standing up on the inside.
Jesus said, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you find eternal life; but they point to me” (John 5:39). The Jews in the time of Jesus finally wanted to obey. They sifted through every chapter, paragraph, and word of the Bible, hunting for one more way to sit down. Jesus said they missed its most vital message.
The last idol ever yielded on the altar of God is the surrender our inner-selves.
Instead of renouncing inner-idols, we modern believers still obsess on behavior. We search the Scriptures for one more way we can perform, to prove our goodness, to boost our self-esteem, or to increase our self-acceptance. Or we read every book we can find on parenting, church leadership, marriage communication, or therapy.
God says our final act of worship is to sacrifice any and all of our inner-doing.
That’s why Jesus pushed so hard in his Sermon on the Mount. Our problem is not just external adultery, it’s our inner lust; it’s not just murder on the outside, it’s our inner ridicule of others. Adultery and ridicule (inner and outer) are living evidence of our self-proving inner-doing.
Our real life is in inner life. That is where we live. Our outer life is aluminum siding. Jesus came at the exact right time in history—when virtually everyone had re-sided their homes—he came to redecorate our inner-being.
The God of all creation broke through time and space—spirituality and physicality—to save us. But to save us for what? The incarnate Son of God came to earth to redeem our lives from slavery to hell on earth (and beyond). But to redeems us for what?
He didn’t endure all that merely to make good little boys and girls who sit down.
Adam and Eve walked and talked with God in the cool of the garden. Their internal and external rebellion severed that conversation with God. Jesus saved us so that we once again can walk and talk with him.
Christianity is not about being goody-two shoes on the outside; it’s about having a restored conversational relationship with God. It’s not just about sitting down to feed our inner and outer egos, it’s about sitting down for a cup of coffee with God and re-learning to talk.
So Why Not Now?
Okay, so why not now? Why didn’t Jesus come and teach that inner lesson here and now, today? He did and he does. Our real life is our inner life not our outer husk, it’s the part no one sees but it’s where we live. It’s in the hidden parts of our lives that we really exist.
That’s where Jesus comes today. He really does come now. He saved us so that we can walk and talk with him in our inner being; so we can hear his voice there just as he hears our voices. Our lives are now hid with Christ, and in our inner lives with him, we talk.
Jesus calls to each of us, here, today, right now: Walk with me.
This article includes material from my upcoming book Hearing God in Conversation: How to Recognize His Voice Everywhere. It will be released in mid-July.
- Learning to recognize the sound of God’s voice
- Hearing God in his silence
- How to Brainstorm with God
- Hearing God in Scripture
- Hearing God for guidance
Gary Wilkerson (pastor, author, and son of David Wilkerson) said this:
A key longing in every human heart is to connect with God, to actually hear his voice. Sam Williamson has written a remarkable book that teaches both how to hear God’s voice in Scripture, and then to hear his voice in every avenue of life. It’s filled with humor, insight, practical tips, and sound theology. I can’t recommend a better guide than Hearing God in Conversation.