“Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’

Jesus replied, ‘You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.’

‘No,’ said Peter, ‘you shall never wash my feet.’

Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no part with me’.” John 13:3-8  (NIV)


In our relationship with God, we keep wanting to understand everything. We have questions, and we want answers. Why is my family member in the hospital? Why did I get overlooked for the job promotion? Why did my friend move hundreds of miles away? We can feel alone in our lack of understanding. But, sometimes, it’s just a matter of time until we can see the whole picture.

Jesus had gathered His disciples together for a meal as He was approaching the end of His life. He knew that the cross was before Him, but as He sat with his disciples, He knew that He had an opportunity to teach them something valuable. So, He got up, went over to the water, and begin washing the feet of the disciples. This job was usually reserved for the person with the lowest status. In the midst of this, Peter contemplated having Jesus wash his feet. He would not allow it. So, in his typical strong response, he would not let Jesus wash his feet. And Jesus’ response was different than he expected. Jesus said in John 13:7 (NIV), “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” It didn’t make sense in that moment why Jesus was washing his feet. They were dirty, filthy, and stinky. But, Jesus was using a seemingly ordinary task and an ordinary moment to reveal Himself. Later, Jesus shared that He acted as an example of how to serve one another. Jesus knew that the disciples would have difficulty understanding this moment, as well as Jesus dying on the cross. In due time, the disciples would understand what Jesus was doing. They would understand that Jesus wasn’t just humbling Himself to wash their feet; Jesus would soon lay down His life on the cross. It would take time before the disciples truly understood how God was working. He knew that the disciples were going to think about this moment months later, and they would begin to understand.

In life, we face situations where we don’t understand in the moment what God is doing.  We look at it from all angles and think that surely Jesus missed it. How could the current situation have purpose or meaning? But in the moment with Peter and Jesus, Jesus’ response is whispered to our hearts in moments we don’t understand. “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” And when Jesus whispers that to our hearts, we have to take Him at His word. We might not see how all the dots connect today, but He sees the big picture. We might be disappointed that a situation did not work out the way that we prayed and thought it would. We can’t see what God is doing in that moment. But, instead of trying to always reason through our lack of understanding, we have to surrender our control and take Jesus at His word. In due time, we will see that in the midst of our disillusionment, disappointment, or lack of understanding, He has been working all along.

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.