I cried a lot in the first and second grade! If my clothes got dirty on the playground, I cried. If my hair didn’t comb just right, I cried.
But mostly I cried if I didn’t get a 100% on a test.
My second grade teacher, Mrs. Doty, kept one of those airplane barf bags in her desk just for me because sometimes if I missed a question on a test, I would cry so hard I’d start heaving. Other times, it would happen when I knew a test was coming.
The worst were timed tests, a page full of simple math problems we were supposed to know by heart to be completed before the stopwatch reached its end.
But for some reason, when the teacher started the watch, the numbers on the page turned into Chinese alphabet symbols. I would stare at the page trying to make sense of one-plus-one. What does this mean?
Suddenly, I would hear the click of the stopwatch and those chilling words, “Time’s up! Put your pencils down.”
“Time’s up!” meant it was over. There was no more time to figure out the unanswered problems. And at the clattering of #2 pencils on the desks, the crying commenced.
“Time’s up!” meant there was an expectation. Timed tests weren’t designed to teach a student his math facts. They were meant to prove him. They were for showing how adept he was at identifying what he should have already known.
I stopped crying after second grade, but for the rest of my elementary years, those two words would haunt me; they would literally make me sick.
Recently, I was surprised by the way these words caught my attention when reading through the gospels in Eugene Peterson’s, The Message.
“Time’s up! God’s kingdom is here. Change your life and believe the Message,” Jesus said.1
Instantly, I felt that twinge in my gut.
“Time’s up” was part of Jesus’ gospel! I saw it afresh this time. I felt the gravity of his message in a way that was new to me.
With Jesus’ arrival, the kingdom of God was now present in the world.
The time of Adam’s regime had been fulfilled. Paul explained it that “when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law…” Galatians 4:4 (ESV).
With Jesus’ incarnation, and more specifically, his resurrection, something changed in the world. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus would become history’s pivot point.
Jesus’ message was not “pray the sinner’s prayer and get a free ticket to Heaven when you die.” He preached a different gospel. He preached a definite conclusion to the old, and a definite arrival of some thing new.
He preached that the kingdom of God was central to the good news he was bringing. It wasn’t an afterthought.
The invasion of the old adamic regime, and the inauguration of the kingdom of God on earth, was at the heart of Jesus’ gospel.
This truth should teach us something about our theology. Particularly, it should inform our eschatology, the church’s commission, and what it means to follow Jesus, presently.
King Jesus invaded the old regime in progress and introduced something new, something better–God’s kingdom in us, here and now!
And he made one thing clear. There is no more time for fooling around. It’s time to get serious. It’s time to walk away from the old regime and swear our allegiance to the new.
Jesus came into the world the first time to redeem sinners and inaugurate his kingdom on earth. Some brilliant day when we least expect it, he will return to judge sinners and consummate his kingdom on earth.
Then, “Time’s up!” will have a whole different meaning.
Feature Image Photo Credit:William Warby
Eugene H. Peterson, The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2005), Mk 1:15.
About Scott Postma
Scott lives in North Idaho collecting more books than he'll ever read in a lifetime. He helps people cultivate their capacity to perceive and appreciate the good, the true, and the beautiful by sharing rich insights into the arts and humanities, meaningful perspective on faith and culture, and valuable tips on writing and teaching. You can subscribe to the tribe and follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.