Bosom Pals


Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved.  John 13:23Image

I love the intimacy of this scene.  And it seems as though the intimacy of this disciple gained Your intimacy with him.  Because of his special love for You, You had a special love for him.  Intimacy bears greater intimacy.

It’s funny that some of the Bible translations seem to tone this intimacy down.  How can we take “leaning on Jesus’ bosom” and call it just “near Him at the table”?  I think there is a big difference between feeling comfortable enough to lean my head on someone’s actual body verses to sit near someone.  There is a deeper level of intimacy.  I could sit next to a stranger on the bus, but I certainly wouldn’t rest my head on his chest or even his shoulder!  That would be an awkward moment!  And on the other hand, I have various good friends, but only some of those friends would sit with me on the sofa and lean against my chest, or lay their head on my lap, or rest their head against my head.  It’s a matter of intimacy.  It’s a matter of wanting to draw close.  It’s a matter of enjoying one another’s presence.

This is a beautiful scene.  This disciple, was it John?, was closer than near at the table.  He wasn’t just sitting next to You.  He wasn’t just at Your side.   This man was resting his head on You.  And You didn’t mind one little bit.  It not only meant much to him, but it meant much to You.  Your affection for him was evident.  Everyone could see the closeness.  All the disciples knew the specialness of this relationship.  It was a relationship that expressed the love of God not just as one sided, but as a reciprocal relationship.  It was a realtionship where the disciple knew how to receive Your love and wasn’t afraid to give it back.

Intimacy is beautiful.  John wasn’t just leaning against You.  The Greek word is “kolpos”The commentaries refer to kolpos in this case as “the front of the body between the arms.”  It’s also referred to as “the upper part of the chest where a garment naturally folded to form a ‘pocket’- called the ‘bosom,’ the position synonymous with intimacy (union).”

In Luke 6:38, Jesus, You share about us learning to give generously, not just physical giving, but spiritual giving like mercy, thanks, love, and forgiveness.  When I draw close to You in these ways and give it back out to others, it will be returned to me, in abundance over what I gave, pressed down, shaken together, and running over from that “pocket” over my chest in this “spiritual” garment I wear of You.  And I wonder if it goes deeper into the “pocket” of my heart and overflows?

You share about poor, beggar Lazarus dying and being received in Abraham’s bosom.  Wikipedia, Abraham’s Bosom, shared that this idea could have stemmed from “the universal custom of parents to take up into their arms, or place upon their knees, their children when they are fatigued, or return home, and to make them rest by their side during the night, thus causing them to enjoy rest and security in the bosom of a loving parent.  After the same manner was Abraham supposed to act towards his children after the fatigues and troubles of the present life, hence the metaphorical expression “to be in Abraham’s Bosom” as meaning to be in repose and happiness with him.”

I also found out that it was a normal practice at this time “of reclining and eating meals in proximity to other guests, the closest of whom physically was said to lie on the bosom (chest) of the host. ”  Two people would usually share the on cushion, each resting on their left arm and leaving the right arm free.  But the thing is, I can see this, but I don’t see the same physical closeness expressed about any ot the other disciples with each other.  But here is John, enjoying thoroughly the honor of lying by Your side, of partaking the meal with You, of Your presence and person so that he leans on You and rests and enjoys.

Being “in the bosom” is important.  John 1:18 says, “No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared Him.”  If You are in the bosom of the Father, if You are that close with Him, than I ought to follow John’s example and desire to be in Your bosom.  I want that kind of intimacy.  I need that kind of intimacy with You.  Francis J. Moloney shared some interesting insights on this.  “Augustine saw it as showing the intimacy created by perfect communion”  The Jerusalem Bible expresses is as being “nearest to the Father’s heart.”  “The expression is used in the{Septuagent] to speak of a tender physical closeness of a woman to a man… or of a man to a woman…. It is also used to speak of an infant’s nourishment ‘upon the breast’ of its mother … As is well known, it is used on one other occasion by our Evangelist to refer to a position of closeness and friendship accorded to the Beloved Disciple”.

Jesus, as You remained in the bosom of Your heavenly Father, You received of His intimacy, both of His Words and thoughts and His actions.  You reciprocated what You received.  You were One.  You not only recieved His love for You, but You received His love for me, for each of us.  And You obeyed.  You shared that love abroad by obediently facing the cross.   Because of Your intimacy with the Father and Your desire to be intimate with me, with each of us, You loved to the extreme.  You demonstrated this extreme love for all people of all history to see.  And You call us into Your bosom, into true intimacy with You.  “Come, recline with me at the table.  Lay by my side.  Let go of your heavy burdens.  Lean on me.  Learn of me.”  Which brings me to Your words in Scripture, “All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.  Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:27-30

Lord, I can’t get over the way You love me.  I don’t want to ever get over it.  I just want to love You and others the same way that You love me.  I want to rest in You.  I want to know You more and more intimately every day.  And in Your intimacy with me, show me things in myself that I need to change and show me new things in myself that You are doing in me.  I want to enjoy rest and security in Your arms all the days of my life.  And I most of all, I just want to enjoy You and Your closeness.  Lord, You first loved me.  And because of Your love for me, I am head over heals in love with You.  There is no love that compares.



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