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Leaning on Jesus’ Bosom

When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom he spake. Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved. Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spake. He then lying on Jesus' breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it?

John 13:21-25

Recently I was reading God’s word and asking God to show me what he wanted me to teach and preach on Sunday. My thoughts turned to the account of the Last Supper - specifically the part where John was leaning on Jesus’ bosom. Immediately my attention was turned to our dog “Shadow” who happened to be leaning on my bosom just then. I began to think about what kind of a relationship it is that causes one to lean upon the bosom of another.

The first time I met Shadow, he was laying on our front doormat, trying to protect himself from the main force of a driving winter rainstorm. He was cold, wet, shivering, and scared. I love dogs and so I invited him in, fed him, gave him fresh water to drink, and got him warm and dry. We were unable to find his owner, so he became a permanent member of our family. He loves to lay on me. This helps me understand something of the relationship between the Apostle John and his Lord and Master.

When Shadow leans on me it tells me that he loves me. But what kind of love is this? It is a trusting, grateful, restful kind of love. It’s a love in which no barriers exist and which nothing else interferes. It is a love that is based upon an understanding of the one loved. This is the kind of love that John had for Jesus and which Jesus wants every one of his children to have for him.

Five times in the book of John, John is referred to as the disciple “whom Jesus loved”. Jesus loved them all, but John was the only one referred to in this way. There was something special about John. John was the only one of the twelve to be at the cross in Christ’s last hours and it was there that Jesus entrusted the care of his mother to John:

When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.

John 19:26-27

John had real love for God, so God used him to define this love perfectly in a letter that John wrote:

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

I John 5:3

Real love for God is obedient love - it simply cannot be any other way. But it is not an obligatory, mechanical, slavish sort of obedience. There is a tenderness about this kind of obedient love….

But the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter.

II Samuel 12:3

Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved? I raised thee up under the apple tree: there thy mother brought thee forth: there she brought thee forth that bare thee.

Song of Solomon 8:5

…and we see it expressed perfectly in the love between God the Father and God the Son:

No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

John 1:18

This is the kind of love that God has for his children:

He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.

Isaiah 40:11

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