The Gospel of John: John 13

Last week we saw how we cannot make it on our own. We need someone to help guide us. But what if we do not understand them? What if they are so beyond our comprehension, we cannot see what is right in front of our faces? The disciples faced that, leading into the last days of Jesus’ life. What they expected was not what was done, and maybe that is the way it is supposed to be.

This week’s chapter starts with an absolutely amazing scene. The God of the universe, who created everything there ever was and ever will be, and who defied His created order to become human, humbles Himself by throwing off his clothes and taking the stance of a servant to wash the disciples feet. He bowed low into the dirt of their floor and took the towel He was wearing, and removed the dirt from their feet. This was done for all 12 of the disciples. This includes Judas Iscariot, who Jesus knew was going to betray Him. Jesus puts aside any idea that He is better than someone, to serve His disciples, and to begin teaching them about what is to happen. Jesus says, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him” (John 13:12-16, NASB).

“I am persuaded that love and humility are the highest attainments in the school of Christ and the brightest evidence that He is indeed our Master”
— John Newton

As the disciples were sitting at the table with Jesus, He said to them that one of them would betray Him. After all these years, and all the things they had seen, how could they someone do this? Peter says, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus responds by telling them that it will be the one he gives a morsel to. He gets up, and walks to Judas and feeds him the morsel. Jesus says “What you do, do quickly” and the disciples were unsure of what they just witnessed.

“For if the mystery concealed of old is made manifest to the Apostles through the prophetic writings, and if the prophets, being wise men, understood what proceeded from their own mouths, the the prophets knew what was made manifest to the Apostles.”
— Origen

Jesus goes on to describe that He is about to leave the disciples. They express the same theme that seems to come out in this chapter; you may not recognize what is happening right in front of you. The disciples aimed to follow Jesus for the rest of their days, but did not recognize that Jesus had to go on before them. The disciples did not recognize that Judas was leaving to betray Jesus, not to do some service for Him. Jesus’s words seem to ring out to them this entire evening, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter” (John 13:7, NASB). I think far too often we expect God to work in some huge and knowable way, but we forget that Jesus did things right in front of the disciples they did not truly understand until after. In the days to come, when Jesus is beaten and killed, they did not know that He was dying for them. They were lost and confused. It was not until later that they were able to fully comprehend Jesus’ actions to the best of their abilities. Truly, we still do not fully understand Jesus 2000 years later.

Going Forward

Every hear the cliché, “the Lord works in mysterious ways”? Believe it or not it’s true. Far too often we want to beg God for a sign, but He often does not speak to us in the way we expect. Keep an eye out for the little things that God wants you to pick up on. Trying to make a big life decision? God might not audibly speak to you and tell you the path to take. Struggling through pain or grief? You might not see Him, but He is there with you. God often works right in front of your face, you just have to open you eyes to see Him. Or you can keep acting like this:


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