“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.”
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.
“And you will feel secure, because there is hope;
you will look around and take your rest in security.”
“If you lie down, you will not be afraid;
when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.”
Bedding down in the ruins of an old adobe church gave me a great deal of apprehension. I was anxious because at night all the scorpions, snakes and tarantulas do most of their exploring. Now I have an uncommon fear of tarantulas, at night I have seen them come out and the ground was churning. But as a missionary in rural Mexico and I guess I figured that I ought not shirk my expected routine. But I was spooked. I am a true arachnophobiac.
Job and the Book of Proverbs combine to correctly identify the personal security issues for the believer. We’re most vulnerable when we lie down to sleep. When you think about it, that’s when we are most accessible and open to assault.
But there are promises that are given to believers that reassure us and secure us. It is a remarkably basic promise, that we can lay down and God will stand watch over us as we rest. But I contend that there other times, times when He watches us and guides us through a myriad of unseen difficult things. He secures us, and then keeps us.
My time in the Mexican desert taught me some incredible lessons. I must admit though, that sleeping on the ground was an ordeal. I had to trust that the Lord would take special care over me as I lay defenseless. I could not defend myself, so I trusted Him and slept. I ‘shut down’ my imagination and trusted Him who I could not see. (I didn’t even bother to look for tarantula ‘tracks’ around my bedroll in the morning.)
We live in a time of complex danger. Bad things have become increasingly routine and we have come to the point were we just can’t protect ourselves, or those we love. Jesus warned us that this would happen.
Paul writes of this intensification of evil things.
We must trust Him who is unseen. We are to be people that move toward ‘the wings’ to find shelter. I believe this is a volitional decision. We make a verbal commitment to our protecting One, that He will shield us from those who are evil and perhaps even deranged.
He loves us so much. We can trust Him completely and fully. Even in the face of very big spiders.
“The only known antidote to fear is faith.”