|Jesus could stand to be patient with his disciples because he knew something about them. He knew they didn’t always know what God was doing. I’m sure their ignorance was hard to bear sometimes. Think Peter rebuking Jesus because he didn’t understand the Lord’s cross-shaped mission. For the most part, the harshest of words Jesus has for anyone are toward those who should know better. Those are the religious leaders who dedicated their lives to the study of God’s word.|
The study of scripture draws us closer to God, of course. We know more about God’s everlasting love. It can’t be wrong to suggest, then, that the more we know the more we, like Jesus, become more patient with others.
Let’s tie in what we know with that powerful scene between Jesus and his disciples. As John tells the story of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet, our Lord knew several things. He knew his hour had come. Everything he had said and done had led him to this next moment when he would face death. To me, that’s part of what makes the evening’s events so meaningful. Knowing what would happen, Jesus served, worshiped and prayed.
We’re also told Jesus knew that God the Father had given him all things and that he had come from God and was going to God. What did Jesus do with all that God had given him? He certainly didn’t lord it over anyone. He took the opposite approach and sought the form of a servant. Imagine the disciples’ thoughts. They watched Jesus put on that servant’s outfit, kneel before them and wash their feet. John doesn’t say it, but Jesus had to also know how shocking that would’ve been to them.
The last thing Jesus knows is who will betray him. That’s one point I reflect on often. Knowing that Judas would betray him, Jesus made sure he still received the bread and wine. Jesus knew what that would mean for believers to come.
For as much as Jesus knew, the disciples seem completely unaware. Jesus even tells Peter, “You do not know now what I am doing.”
I have no way of knowing this for sure, but the foot-washing must’ve taken a little while. I say that because it takes only five verses for Jesus to then ask his followers this question, “Do you know what I have done to you?” I imagine Jesus intently washing each foot with care and compassion. Did he want to give the group time to reflect on what he was doing?
The NIV, and I’m sure other versions, translate Jesus’ question as “do you know what I have done for you?” All the other translations I typically use say “do you know what I have done to you?”
What difference does that make?
Well, his example could’ve been for them to remember. As such, they could hope to live up to that kind of example. That would be meaningful enough. But the Lord did something to them. He washed them and prepared them for what was to come.
To be sure, none of it made too much sense then. Judas still betrayed him. Peter still denied him. Most of the others still fled. It’s only after the resurrection that everything becomes clear.
But it was more than a reminder. It was a commission.
Later they would know their purpose. They would know what Jesus wanted them to do and to become. They knew Jesus had made them servants of all. Finally, they knew that knowing wasn’t the end goal. “If you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”