The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him and He helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise Him. Psalm 28:7 NIV
Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. John 13:23 NKJV
It was the night of the Passover, an event Jesus held with warm anticipation and deep longing. A quiet room was arranged away from the noise of the crowds. It was in this place that Jesus delivered the last of His teachings, teachings filled with rich meaning.
Picture this room with me a moment. A simple space with a long wooden table hedged by pillows on all sides. Dimly lit candles sprinkled throughout the room creating a blanket of soft intimacy. A room bathed in comfort by the sound of lamb crackling on a spit and the smell of fresh baked bread wafting through the air. It was the perfect setting for the Savior’s final meal with the ones He loved most.
Around the table sat a varied collection of men. They came from different walks of life yet all landed at the feet of the Savior. Here in this place Jesus’ disciples gathered for the most important Passover dinner of all.
History teaches that John was likely the youngest disciple. He was a tender reed, the weave of adulthood not yet woven into his soul. So precious was his childlike faith that he was known as “the disciple Jesus loved.”
There is a tender exchange in the Bible that I would like to visit with you today. In a moment of childlike innocence the young disciple rested his head upon Jesus’ bosom. Let’s nest on this event for a moment.
Can you picture it? A young man on the tip of metamorphosis rests his head tenderly upon his Savior. John – so close he can smell the Lord’s fragrance. So close he can trace the steps of the Lord’s breath as it enters and exits His lungs. So close he can hear the rhythm of Jesus’ heartbeat. So close he can feel the vibration in his chest as He speaks gently to His disciples.
I wonder, John, how many times did you mentally revisit that room to relive those precious moments with your King? Could you hear the Savior’s heartbeat in your mind? Did you capture a fleeting scent of the Jesus’ fragrance?
While Jesus and the disciples basked in the glow of an intimate gathering, an angry tide was silently rising outside the walls of the upper room. Only two people present around the table were aware of the evil plan that would capsize the early church movement ~ Jesus Christ and Judas Iscariot.
Jesus didn’t want His followers to be caught unaware, however, so He warned them.
Across the table a rugged fisherman named Peter listened to Jesus’ disturbing announcement. The fabric of Peter’s being was very different than the young disciple leaning on Jesus’ bosom. Unlike John, Peter leaned quite heavily on his adult mindset. So it is no surprise that Jesus’ words propelled Peter to action.
Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask who it was of whom He spoke.”
John 13:24 NKJV
Then, leaning back on Jesus’ breast, he said to Him, “Lord, who is it?”
John 13:25 NKJV
Fast forward to John 18. A band of Roman soldiers with torches and chains sought Jesus’ arrest in the garden of Gethsemane. At the helm of the captors was the very betrayer Jesus spoke of at the dinner table that night ~ Judas Iscariot.
Can you imagine the anger that must have swelled in Peter when he saw Judas among Jesus’ enemies? Judas’ actions provoked Peter’s zeal. Given Peter’s nature it is not surprising that he lunged in front of Jesus.
Then Simon Peter having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?” John 18:10-11 NKJV
Peter’s unbridled passion, though protective in nature, was a fleshly response that met a sharp rebuke from Jesus. Peter was out of step with God’s will. It was John, however, who demonstrated the posture most pleasing to Jesus around a table in an upper room only a few hours earlier.
John leaned on the One who possessed supernatural strength. He turned to the One who knew God’s will. He listened to the deep mysteries that fell from Jesus’ lips. He positioned himself so close that nothing could stand between him and his Savior.
When we master the discipline of leaning, our relationship with Jesus takes us to a whole new level. Leaning is so beautiful and so liberating. And leaning everyday is the precise the posture that pleases our King.
Question to Ponder
Is there an area of your life that you know you’ve been leaning on your own strength rather than leaning on the Lord?