Friday, August 11, 2006

The Sixth Hour

While writing an exegesis paper for one of my summer classes, I stumbled upon something I thought was quite interesting. It may be nothing and I am just reading too much into it, but it is still rather fascinating.

What I noticed was that whenever the phrase "the sixth hour" is used in the Bible (or more specifically in the New Testament since that is the only place where the phrase is found) it has to do, one way or another, with God's plan of salvation for all.

The first place the phrase is found is in Matthew 20:5, where Jesus tells the parable of Heaven being like a householder hiring laborers for his vineyard. The laborers that where hired first (the Jews) received the same reward as the ones who were just hired (the Gentiles). This parable shows us that Heaven consists of both Jews and Gentiles.

The next three places where "the sixth hour" is mentioned consecutively in the Bible, Matthew 27:45, Mark 15:33, and Luke 23:44, is when Jesus is on the Cross near death. The Cross is the symbol of our salvation. Because of Jesus' death on the Cross, as well as His resurrection, all are able to achieve salvation.

Next, we have John 4:6 were Jesus is talking with the Samaritan woman at the well. John tells us that "it was about the sixth hour" when Jesus sat down at the well. Jesus tells the woman that all who drink of the living water, that is Christ Himself, will receive eternal life:

Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, `Give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water." The woman said to him, "Sir, you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep; where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, and his sons, and his cattle?" Jesus said to her, "Every one who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw." Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband, and come here." The woman answered him, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "You are right in saying, `I have no husband'; for you have had five husbands, and he whom you now have is not your husband; this you said truly." The woman said to him, "Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain; and you say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship." Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." The woman said to him, "I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ); when he comes, he will show us all things." Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am he" (Jn 4:10-26).

Then later the Samaritans proclaim to the woman, "It is no longer because of your words that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world" (Jn 4:42).

Later in 19:14, John writes "Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, "Behold your King!"
Pilate says sarcastically to the Jews (although truthfully, yet unbeknownst to him) that Christ is their King. Then he hands him over for crucifixion (which as I said before is the event, along with Christ's resurrection, that procured salvation for all mankind).

The last place the phrase is used is in Acts 10:9 when God tells Peter on the roof top to put his plan of salvation into action by baptizing the first Gentile; the centurion Cornelius.

As you can see, whenever the Bible mentions "the sixth hour," in one way or another it has to do with God's plan of salvation for all. Salvation may be from the Jews in that Israel was God's chosen nation and Jesus was a Jew, but through Christ (who is Salvation Itself) all are able to achieve salvation!

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