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A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

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

Do you recognize the context in which Jesus made this observation (and promise!)?  It’s a verse that I never really noticed before, as it lies inconspicuously in a passage filled with attention-getting drama.

Here it is again with a little more context:

The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus.  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.”

Jesus made that remark to his bewildered disciples, on a night none of them would ever forget, about the most earth-shattering series of events in human history.  His washing of their feet made little sense to them.  If we are being honest, neither does much of what He does in our lives.

In fact, think about your life right now.  What is Jesus currently doing (or not doing) that you simply cannot understand: A job loss, a grievous illness, dissension in your church, a lost relationship, a disobedient child for whom you have faithfully prayed?

Our Lord does many things that we do not understand.  In fact, for the disciples that night, a foot washing was likely one of the least confusing things that would happen.  The foundation of their life was about to be shaken and, at the time, none of it would make sense.

In that moment, Jesus didn’t just observe their confusion; He promised that, one day, it would become clear, and all would make sense.  There will come a day when the saints will understand and join the multitude in saying, with a full heart, “Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for true and just are his judgments” (Revelation 19:1-2).

As you fast today, ask God for the grace to trust Him with what is presently unfathomable, as you wait for the day when you will understand. Perhaps the benefits you receive in the midst of seemingly senseless hunger may illustrate to you how apparent loss can turn into gain in the hands of our gracious God.

Tim Henderson
Vice President University Christian Union
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