John 13:7, “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand after these [things].”
One truth we can derive from this text is that the resurrection of the crucified Christ (the “these things” He refers to) is the illumination of His person and work. He is not known aright until He is known as this one, and His works are not understood until they are understood as the works performed by and pointing to this one.
So, in the case of the washing of His disciples’ feet. The disciples are confused and aghast that their Lord and Teacher would wash their feet….they accept it at the Lord’s command, but they do not understand how this fits with His role as Christ, or what this could mean……However, upon His death and resurrection, they realize that the washing of their feet was a microcosmic expression of what He was about to achieve on Calvary…..and so, a microcosmic expression of who He is. They saw in the foot washing—as with all of His life—an anticipation and an exposition of His great, self-revealing work on the cross.
Now, I think we can extrapolate Jesus’s words here out even further. Yes, in the moment He speaks these words specifically about the foot washing. But is there not a sense in which these words are true of ALL things?
We do not understand now what the Lord is doing in our lives….we do not understand now why this is happening, we cannot see now the significance or the place or the meaning of this……but, we will understand afterward…illumination is coming, recognition of the meaning of all that we walk through is coming….and coming only in the interpretive light of the slain and living Lord.
The Crucified Jesus who is risen—not only casts interpretive light on His own life, but since He is the one through whom and for whom all things exist, He casts interpretive light on all things. All things remain not understood until understood in His light…..and though we understand in part now by faith, the final and full illumination will come in the New Heaven and Earth, where the glory of God—shining in the face of the slain and risen Lord—will illumine, and so interpret, all things, spatial and temporal.