In a video I posted here, I went through and broke down the time designations the Scriptures give us regarding the day of Passover, and how to translate them to our current designations of time. Mark tells us that at the ‘3rd hour’ Jesus was crucified, from the ‘6th to the 9th hour’ the earth became black with darkness, and that at the ‘9th hour’ Jesus died (gave up His spirit). I won’t go through all the machinations (you can watch the video if you would like to see that), but this translates to 9am as the beginning of the crucifixion, 12noon to 3pm for the darkness, and 3pm when Jesus gave up His spirit.
With that in mind, my attention this year was drawn to the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard (Matthew 20).
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle, and said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right you will receive.’"
The Vineyard is obviously the Kingdom of God, and the laborers are those who respond to the call of God and have entered the Kingdom. What struck me this year was two-fold.
First is that the designations of the hours are just like the those found in Mark, in recounting the timing of events surrounding the crucifixion. These designations are not ordered in such a way, other than in this parable and the Passover Day crucifixion. Some sudden insights ignited in my mind as the two accounts came together in my mind.
At 9am Jesus called out, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t understand what they are doing." He was making intercession on the cross for those crucifying Him, just as the morning intercession went up to heaven, on the Temple Mount, during the morning sacrifice there. Some people are struck with conviction at the mercy of God when they hear His voice at the '3rd hour,' and they come to salvation. His words of grace and forgiveness grip the soul.
At 12 noon the earth darkened, showing through the very signs of nature that sin impacts everything it touches. There are some who, through natural consequences, experience the darkness and weight of sin. They turn from it and to Jesus, entering into salvation. They need refuge and saved from themselves. Jesus understand the weight of that darkness and has overcome it. Resurrection LIFE is available to all who see their great need.
At 3pm, Jesus cries out that “It is accomplished . . . finished . . . the work is completed!” He then places His trust in the Father, amidst the darkness of separation from His Father, and declares “Into Your Hands I commit My spirit” and He breathes His last. Some people finally come to the end of their rope, their own efforts ultimately failing them, and salvation awaits, as they acknowledge that Jesus is the only one able to provide salvation, meaning and worth. The completed work of Jesus, applied to the weary, striving soul, brings peace and purpose unparalleled.
In the parable from Matthew an additional time designation is added … the 11th hour. Jesus goes out at the 11th hour (an hour before the light becomes enduring darkness) and is still looking for those who will hear His voice and join Him in the eternal LIFE of the Kingdom and its work.
We currently stand at what may very likely be the 11th hour in history, before His return. Might the person He is seeking be you? He died that we all may have eternal LIFE. And to have eternal purpose in whatever remains of our lives. Jesus/Yeshua is the Way, the Truth, and the LIFE. There is no other way. No other path. He is the singular avenue to eternal LIFE and purpose. And He is out seeking after each of us, to the very end.
“Seek the LORD while He may be found,
Call upon Him while He is near.”
Even Jesus said …
"I must do the works of the Father while it is still day,
For the night is coming, when no one can work."
And that was the second thing that struck me. God’s mercy extends to the final hour, toward any who will listen. Toward all those who need a wrecked life to be saved and renewed into an eternal calling and purpose … He is calling.
And not only for salvation, but for eternal purpose now, for the remainder of our days. Maybe you came to salvation by trusting into Jesus at 9am. Maybe you were one of the first, but life has been rough, you have been hurt, you have closed off your heart, and you currently live in on-going brokenness. Jesus came to heal the broken-hearted and to set us free from ourselves. Even at the 11th hour, Jesus’ healing love is available to you. Hear His voice. Invite Him in to heal you. Let Him give you the greater LIFE He has always intended for you to have. You do not have to stay ‘standing around’ protecting your hurts and wounds. He will bind up your brokenness, heal your wounds and stop the flow of those old ways … if you will invite Him in to do so.
God’s heart is to counsel those who mourn, to give beauty for ashes, joy for mourning, and a covering of praise for the spirit of heaviness. He not only wants to save us, but to make us strong in Him and His eternal Kingdom.