You’ve probably heard the following joke, but it helps me make my point, so I’ll tell it again:
A young man named Johnny was lying on a hillside one day and watching the clouds roll by. Feeling inspired, he decided to talk to God—
God: Yes, Johnny?
Johnny: How big are you exactly?
God: Bigger than you can possibly imagine.
Johnny: Help me understand.
God: Ok. To me a million years is like a minute.
Johnny: So what’s a million dollars like to you?
God: Well, it’s like one penny.
Johnny: God? Can I have a penny?
God: Sure, Johnny. Just a minute.
In Peter’s second letter, he’s dealing with the apparent delay in Jesus’ return and the response of certain critics who wonder out loud, “Just where is this coming that you speak of?” And Peter responds with a reminder that God’s sense of time is not like ours. He says: But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness (2 Peter 3:8-9).
Over and over again we get the idea that our concept of time and God’s concept of time are not the same. Sometimes that’s bad. We want God to deliver on a promise or answer a prayer or take care of a need or rescue us from something. And what must be a brief time to him feels like an eternity to us. Sometimes it appears to work in our favor. God exerts little or not effort to show the small amount of patience with us. That patience translates into an entire lifetime for us.
When it comes to today’s passage I’ll gladly take God’s understanding of time over ours. Jesus says that he has come “to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:19). Now that could mean one of our years. In which case, God’s favor lasted 365 days and was exhausted around the year 32 A.D. Or a year in this context could mean one of God’s years which, to us, is ongoing and almost limitless. Fortunately, I believe Jesus is talking about one of God’s years.
And that’s the good news for this morning. You and I are so lucky, so very blessed, to be living in the year of the Lord’s favor. Let’s not let it (or our whole lives) pass us by. Let’s enjoy it today as we worship together.