Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” (John 13:25)
John’s gospel recounts the Last Supper in great detail, including observations not offered in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke.) One of these unique elements is a brief exchange that took place between Peter and John. After Jesus told the disciples that one of them would be betray Him, the disciples were dismayed and confused, and they wondered which of them could possibly do such a terrible thing.
Only John tells us that “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (that disciple undoubtedly being John himself) was reclining next to Jesus at the table. (Reclining at a supper table, rather than sitting at the table as we do today, was the common posture in that culture at that time.) Peter motioned to John and suggested, “Ask him which one He means.”
At that point, we read that John leaned back against Jesus and asked, “Who is it?” Several respected translations of the original Greek render John 13:25 as saying that John actually laid his head on Jesus’ chest, just like a child snuggling with his daddy.
Think about that for a moment; it’s almost inconceivable! The God whom no one can look at and live (Exodus 33:20) . . . the God who would later manifest Himself to John with a sharp, double-edged sword coming out of His mouth (Revelation 1:16) . . . the God who commanded Moses to take off his shoes, because the very ground surrounding Him was holy ground (Exodus 3:5) . . . that same God, He who dwells in unapproachable light (1 Timothy 6:16), allowed John to cuddle with Him!
And you and I are invited to do the same . . . at any time of the day or night.
We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Is there a question that is troubling you? Are you overwhelmed by your sin? Are you confronted by a personal or professional crisis? Lean against Jesus and ask Him to meet you at your point of need. You can approach Him with confidence, knowing that He will embrace you with His love and grace.
Far too many people—both Christians and unbelievers alike—feel that they dare not approach God until they have “cleaned up their act.” They believe that God is righteous, holy, and pure (which is perfectly true), that they are unrighteous, unholy, and impure (also true), and thus God wants nothing to do with them until they have completely forsaken their sinful ways—and that notion is wildly untrue!
I could fill a book with the passages of Scripture that encourage sinners to come to Christ, to lean against Him, and ask for help. Let’s return to Hebrews for just one of these encouraging assurances:
[Jesus] had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
I long ago lost count of how many times guilt-ridden people have said to me, “If you only knew what I think and say and do! How could God possibly want anything to do with me?”
I’ll reply that it’s true, I don’t know what you’ve done, but God does, and He wants everything to do with you for all eternity! He wants it so badly that He sent His only begotten Son to die for your sins. Whether you’ve been a Christian for decades or you have never placed your trust in Christ for eternal life, He holds out His nail-scarred hands to you and invites you to lean against Him—He invites you to snuggle with Him! He says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!