I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled…
I. THE STATE OF MIND AND HEART, ON EITHER SIDE, OF WHICH THIS ATTITUDE WAS THE EXPRESSION.
1. On the side of the disciple, it told —
(1) Of a holy, unsuspecting, childlike trust, reliance on the Lord. Doubtless John was tried with many a painful foreboding for the future. Had anyone asked, "Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy Master from thy head?" methinks he had been ready to answer, "Yea, I know it; hold thou thy peace." Too well he knows it. But just the more he will lean his head tonight on that Master's bosom and cast his care on this mighty, gracious One.
(2) Of intense affection. It is heart drawing to heart in the hour of deep grief!
(3) The two feelings, the reliance and the love were inseparably connected. It was a loving reliance; and it was a confiding affection. The "faith wrought by love;" and the love, "casting out fear," emboldened the faith.
2. It told of corresponding feelings on the side of the Master.
(1) Confidence, trust, reposed by Christ in the disciple? Jesus suffers him to lean his head upon His bosom. Ah! this is not to be the traitor. "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him, and He will show them His covenant."(2) Intense affection. Not that Christ loved John with any higher love of benevolence than He did the other disciples. Plainly it is satisfaction, delight, complacency, in John that is spoken of in the appellation, and which came out divinely in the permission to lean his head upon His bosom.
II. OUR TEXT ADMITS OF BEING TURNED TO EXTENSIVE USE, far beyond the ease of John. One disciple only could lean as did John, but we may now find that this is a privilege, accessible in the essence of it, even to as many as shall truly aspire after it.
1. The soul of this attitude, as on the disciple's side lay in trust in Jesus. Then have we the attitude still. "The life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God." Many years ago I was visiting a dying boy. He lay weary on his pillow, near his end. I scarce hoped to make him understand me — he was not six years of age. But thinking I might make an attempt, after short prayer, I said to him, "Charlie, you are resting your head on the pillow; try and rest on Jesus, as you are resting on the pillow." Next day his father told me that, on going up to the little crib several hours after my visit, and without making any reference to it, he said to him, "Are you resting on Jesus, dear?" He immediately answered, "Soft pillow." It was his only reply. Ah, that is it, unsuspecting reliance, "soft pillow" — He lying on Jesus' breast!
(2) And have we not the love also, still. "My beloved is mine, and I am his" — faith and love hand in hand. "I will seek Him whom my soul loveth."
2. The leaning of disciples still is by His welcoming also, just as of old — reciprocating their feelings towards Him in a blessed corresponding confidence, and complacency in them. "He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them," etc. Perhaps, in a more special manner at the Lord's Supper, may the lying on the breast be known and realized. Yet this is not a privilege confined to any one ordinance or season. Assuredly the bosom, the heart, of Jesus is large enough to receive every weary head that is but truly offered to lean on it. "I heard the voice of Jesus say," etc.
(G. J. Brown, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me.