Now and Later
Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” (John 13:7)
Jesus is addressing Simon Peter with this statement. Peter finds himself witnessing what may have been one of the strangest events he had ever seen—Jesus washing feet. And now Christ wants to wash his feet. Perplexed, Peter strongly refuses to let this be done. Foot-washing was (or should be) done by slaves and servants. And preferably by non-Jews so that God’s covenant people could spare themselves from the humiliation associated with this act. Peter had—for probably all his life—been taught that feet were dishonorable members of the body. Smelly, dirty, and the part of your body that was most likely to come in contact with what the Law declared to be unclean. And now, Peter finds himself before the face of Jesus who is kneeling to wash his feet.
If anything, Peter should be washing Jesus’ feet. Or at least that is what he thought. And then Jesus gets serious.
He lets Peter know that if he doesn’t let Him handle his uncleanness—essentially his sin—then he has no part or relationship with Him.
Peter didn’t understand what all this meant but, just like Jesus said, he would.
Take a second to think of this exchange through the lens of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Jesus dies on Good Friday and resurrects on Easter Sunday. All through the gospels the disciples misunderstood Jesus when He talked about His death and resurrection. They didn’t understand on Friday why their Master was dying and hanging on a cross, but after Sunday, they understood. What they couldn’t grasp and see prior to the resurrection, now is revealed and transforming their lives. And this is how much of God’s work takes place in our own lives.
You may be wondering where Christ is in this particular season of your life; you may be confused as to what He is speaking to you and calling you towards. You may feel as if He is not doing any significant work in your life. But take heart.
What you do not understand now, you will understand later.
Often the work that God is doing in us now cannot be understood until sometime later. It usually takes some time before we can look back and say, “This is what God was doing in my life during that time.” This requires that we remain faithful and hopeful—even when we are tempted towards despair. Satan would have us believe that Christ is not doing any significant work in and through us at this moment. And Jesus would say, “Hold on—you will understand what I am doing later.”