The Foreknowledge of Jesus
It is evident that Jesus is able to know things that ordinary people cannot. There are reports that Jesus knew what other people were thinking; he knew when a particular person had touched him even though crowds were pressing around him; and the fact that he remained uncontradicted when he revealed the thoughts of others shows that Jesus was correct.
Jesus also knew of events yet to occur. Such foresight is displayed most clearly prior to the last week in Jerusalem in the three predictions of his passion. As those predictions turned out to be correct, our confidence in the accuracy of Jesus’ foreknowledge is enhanced. These experiences heighten our confidence that whatever Jesus predicts will happen, will in fact occur.
One instance of Jesus’ foreknowledge occurs in the account of the woman who anoints him with precious ointment. Jesus announces that by doing this she has prepared his body for burial. When we read later that Jesus was placed in the tomb without the usual preparation of the corpse, and that therefore his anointing at Bethany was his last anointing prior to burial, the striking nature of Jesus’ foreknowledge is shown.
Such foreknowledge is again demonstrated when Jesus tells his disciples the temple in Jerusalem will be destroyed, a destruction already symbolically announced when Jesus temporarily brought worship in the temple to an end. The predicted destruction begins with Jesus’ death, when the curtain protecting the “Holy of Holies” is torn from top to bottom; a profaned “Holy of Holies” is no longer a fit place for a holy God.
Jesus’ foreknowledge is demonstrated when he instructs his disciples about arrangements for their Passover meal together and it occurs just as he had said it would. Mark gives no hint that Jesus had made these arrangements beforehand. During that Passover meal, Jesus predicts that his betrayer will be one of the Twelve with him at the meal, a prediction that proves tragically accurate with the betrayal by Judas. After the meal, Jesus foretells the desertion of all his disciples, and specifically the threefold betrayal by Peter, events that then occur as Jesus said.
As Jesus’ predictions are proved true, we gain confidence in Jesus’ ability to foreknow the future. That is important, since the events we have been discussing were not the only things Jesus predicted. Before the officials of Judaism, in answer to the question of Jesus’ identity, he had said those questioning him would see him “sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven”. That has yet to occur. Again at the Last Supper, Jesus had said he would drink wine anew in God’s kingdom, and that has not happened. There is Jesus’ statement to the disciples that he would go ahead of them to Galilee, after he was raised from the dead, and that isn’t yet been fulfilled either. In this way we are assured that all other unfulfilled predictions of Jesus will also yet find their fulfillment. These predictions point beyond themselves to a final fulfillment yet to occur. The story of Jesus has yet to be completed. And some of what remains of the story of Jesus will be completed by us in our own lives.