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“Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper” (John 13:3,4a, ESV).

I’ve read this passage of Scripture many times in the last 20 years.  But today a thought struck me that never did before.  Jesus knew (knowledge of perception) that the Father had put “all things into his hands”.  What could this mean?

First, it could be a reference to authority.  God has put all things into Jesus’ hands in terms of authority.  This seems to be indicated in other passages such as John 5:27, “And he has given him authority to execute judgement, because he is the Son of Man.”  And John 17:2, “…you have given him authority over all flesh to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.”  Jesus knew that God had put all authority into His hands (cf. Matt. 11:27, 28:18; Rev. 2:27).

Jesus has been given all authority to execute judgement and to grant eternal life to all of the elect.  He has all authority to rule over all.  That is what Jesus knew that Father had given (once and for all for ever) to Him.

Second, it could be a reference to responsibility.  Consider Acts 2:36, “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”   Jesus knew that the Father had brought all things to this one grand point in redemptive history.  It was now that Christ would go to the cross and thus make atonement for the sins of His people.  In this way, God placed the responsibility for the making of atonement, through His substitutionary death on the cross, squarely on the shoulders of Jesus Christ.

This is a wonderful thought by itself, but the next phrase really caught my attention.  “and that he had come from God and was going back to God” .  Yes, Christ knew that the Father had given all things into his hands.  But he also knew that from God He came and to God He was going.  He had a responsibility while here on the earth but He did not allow the responsibility to cloud the reality.  He lived in light of eternity.  And He died in light of eternity.

This is what makes Jesus’ next act such a model for us.  He rose up from the table where they were eating and He himself dawned the garb of the common slave.  Having dressed for His service He then knelt and began to wash the feet of His disciples.  Of course, this was not His job–at least not if our thinking is governed by the here-and-now.  But the light of eternity illumines Jesus’  action.

When we live in light of eternity we will find that we are not consumed with the claims of career, status, possessions, fame, achievement, or personal rights.  Those things are revealed as not being an end in and of themlves.  Rather, we’ll find ourselves stooping to serve in a demonstration of genuine love for our brothers and sisters in Christ.  Realizing that we are going to God directs our thoughts regarding ourselves, others, and everything in between.