Our Lesson for Today: Learning to Lean

“One of His disciples, whom Jesus loved [whom He esteemed and delighted in], was reclining [next to Him] on Jesus’ bosom.”  

John 13:23, Amplified

“And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”

Matthew 22:37

This apostle, traditionally known to be John, is sitting at the table with the rest of the disciples.  It is an intimate and relaxing affair, they eat and talk and rest in a cool, quiet room. It’s here that John learns to lean.

John sits next to Jesus, an informal place of honor. 

The scripture says that he just rests his head on Jesus’ shoulder.  And Jesus did nothing to stifle such behavior.  Often, with men it would be very uncomfortable and distracting.  I remember when I was a missionary in Mexico watching men holding hands, as good friends.  (I’ve heard that this is true in other cultures as well.)

The intimacy between Jesus and John might strike some as a little odd. 

But for Jesus this love encouraged him as he prepared himself for a brutal death. He felt John’s love and confidence in Him. It was a precious moment. I’m certain both men drew strength from this. Perhaps maybe we can also encourage Jesus like this–maybe?

Tradition tells us that John was boiled in oil. Loving him can be dangerous.

When the black rolls in, and it begins to get scary, resting your head on Jesus’ shoulder is a wonderful place to be.  We may not look at it like this, but I believe Jesus is comforted by our love.  He is encouraged by our affection. It was now getting dark outside.  Jesus had just hours before the nightmare would begin. 

We can make Him happy and content by our simple tokens of affection.

The ‘arm of the Lord’ is spoken of repeatedly by the prophets.  They had a prophetic insight into the strength of God.  We call it, ‘omnipotence’, and our understanding is that He has all strength, and all power– all of the time.  I think that John was leaning on that omnipotence.  But it still was motivated by his affection and love for Jesus.  

Our Savior is strong enough to carry our very heavy burdens and all of our loads.

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We’re Pretty Much Scum

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“To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. 12 We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; 13 when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment.”

1 Corinthians 4:11-13, NIV

The apostle Paul isn’t ashamed to be called ‘scum.’ He realizes that this is his ‘standing’ in this world’s opinion. He is regarded as a nobody and of little value by the ‘powers-that-be.’ A tension exists between the believer and the world system. The expectations that the world has is part of the package that we have been given. The message of the Cross is the ultimate foolishness. Jesus told his own disciples that:

“If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. 19 The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.”

John 15:18-19, NLT

 The world hates us because we belong to Jesus.

It is his reproach we bear. We should not see the trial and sorrows as our issue, and we shouldn’t get upset by the world’s snub. The tension is real and we can expect being ostracized. In fact, we might do well to be concerned if we don’t see it.

After all, hatred is such a hard word.

And the stigma should humble us— it has a supernatural origin. We shouldn’t expect otherwise. To follow Jesus means we will only experience what he is already gone through. Some of us will follow him even to martyrdom. The hardships and challenges do not invalidate our walk, rather they confirm what he said would happen. The world is under seige by Satan,  it is his spirit that controls the unbelieving world.

“Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

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Father of all comfort, please come to your servants who are suffering for their faith in you. Meet them and hold them close to you. Give them boldness and awareness. Seek them out and make them your witnesses in a hostile world. Give them the Spirit of Jesus and help them overcome by their love. ~In Jesus Name, Amen

 

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A Stone’s Throw Away

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“And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray,”

Luke 22:41

WHO KNOWS WHAT JESUS IS THINKING AT THIS PRECISE MOMENT as he entered the Garden? His disciples waited for Jesus and scripture states that he proceeded ahead of them to find some needed strength through prayer— this verse tells us he went “a stone’s throw.”

We often share in the sorrows of the people closest to us, and Jesus wants His disciples to follow him. And they do, but not all the way. They came close, but were oblivious to the full nature of the pain that was beginning for Jesus. They slept while he agonized. He was for the first time perhaps, needing someone close.

Many of us will make the same trip to the garden. Soon every believer makes the trip to ‘Gethsemane,’ but not as mere observers. It is a distinct place of testing and of sorrow. And each will experience it for themselves. “The servant is not above his master.”

But Jesus is close— he completely understands what it means to be alone with sorrow. The believer can lean on Jesus as the pain continues. He sends his “Comforter” to each, as he escorts us through this time. He comes in grace, and is completely kind. He truly is just a stone’s throw away.

“God is our refuge and strength,
    always ready to help in times of trouble.”

Psalm 46:1

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Jesus Is Pretty Big

Jesus is pretty big. Among a few other things He created the genome, our minds, the human body, the realms of quantum mechanics and the cosmos, the plant and animal kingdoms, the earth and its ecosystems and matter in its myriad forms. Perchance you’re tempted to think you have His mind you may want to review that list.

Jesus is bigger than the US federal government, all the combined national governments, the weather, the magnetic orientation of the earth, our expanding universe, New York abortion laws, Donald Trump, Joe Biden, pornography, international boundaries, cancer, gender confusion, genocide, and evil.

And He still reaches out for the weak and needy. His hands were ‘pierced’ for you.

I hope my point is self evident.

Your brother,

Les

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