“Jesus replied, ‘You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.’”
Explanation and Commentary of John 13:7
Jesus’ words could have applied to nearly everything he did and said among his disciples. They had not yet received the Holy Spirit that would illuminate so much, nor had they the benefit of hindsight of the greatest moment in the history of creation, the resurrection of Jesus. No event or statement can ever be made sense of completely apart from the Lamb of God slain and resurrected for the restoration of the world. That is why he is the “light of the world” (Jn 8:12).
In this particular instance, Christ has washed the feet of his disciples after the Last Supper in the upper room. Peter has shown again his great talent for missing the point and is first protesting Christ’s service to him and then misunderstanding the magnitude of the act (Jn 13:6). What Peter does not understand is that Jesus’ followers will be cleansed of their sins by his death for them, this is the bath that cleans their whole body, but they may still be in need of confession and repentance of individual sins when they occasionally sin afterward.
Jesus also meant to show his disciples that though he was their master, he would humble himself to serve them, showing them that they too should lead that way, treating one another as he has treated them.
Breaking Down the Key Parts of John 13:7
#1 “Jesus replied,”
Peter has protested at Jesus’ desire to humble himself to wash Peter’s feet.
#2 “‘You do not realize now what I am doing,”
Jesus acknowledges that he knows what he is doing is enigmatic, but his goal is to normalize such an act from a leader and teacher to his disciples, teaching the value of servant leadership.
#3 “but later you will understand.’”
Jesus knew that when the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit, he would remind them of Jesus’ words on earth, and Illuminate them (Jn 14:26).
Bible Study on John 13:7
Expert Overview of John Ch. 13-21
Biblical Translations of John 13:7
Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.”
Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.”
Jesus answered and said unto him, “What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.”
Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.”
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.