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BY REV. FREDERICK WHITFIELD, M.A.,
John xiii. 23— 2G.
ow there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus
loved. Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it
should be of whom he spake. He then, lying on Jesus' breast, saith unto
him, Lord, who is it ? Jesus answered, He it is to whom I shall give a
when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to
Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.
The incidents of the supper chamber on the night of our
blessed Lord's betrayal are full of spiritual instruction. It
is to some of these I would particularly direct the reader's
attention in the verses I have selected for consideration.
The Lord's Supper presents to our view the real distinc-
tion and difference between the sacrificial system of the
Old Testament and the spiritual nature of the present dis-
pensation. In the Old Testament the distinctive feature
of the sacrificial system was a remembrance of sin once a
year. In the Lord's Supper it is " in remembrance of
Me ;" that is, of Him who has put sin away. " In the same
night that He was betrayed," when our everlasting salva-
tion was being accomplished, at the same moment, the
foulest treachery was going on. Thus it may be that in
the midst of our highest privileges there may be the be-
trayal of Christ. The work of Christ has a double effect;
98 COUSELS FROM THE WORDS OF TRUTH.
it pardons the sinner in the court of heaven, while faith
brings that pardon into the court of conscience. Two
striking events are recorded together, connected with this
betrayal, the fall of Judas and the restoration of Peter ;
and they are recorded together in order that we may have
warning and encouragement side by side.
These are a few thoughts that will naturally suggest
themselves on glancing at this scene in the supper chamber.
Let us now direct our attention to the passage we have
selected for consideration. " ow there was leaning on
Jesus' bosom one of His disciples whom Jesus loved."
Mark, reader, when it was that the beloved disciple was
leaning on Jesus' bosom. It was when treason was going
on in the room. The darker things grow outside, the
nearer should we draw to Jesus. The more Satan puts
forth his power in things around, the closer should we
draw to our Beloved.
What a picture of the world was this supper chamber !
There were together the Son of God and Satan. There
was one, and he a disciple, as far off from Christ as a sinner
can possibly be. There was another, and he too a disciple,
as near as saint can ever be, nearer even than an angel,
" leaning on Jesus' bosom." What opposite things were
going on in this chamber at the same moment, Christ and
Satan ; John and Judas ; another, Peter, half way ; one
leaning, another betraying ; one his whole soul penetrated
with the love of Christ ; another, his whole heart filled
with hatred and destruction. Surely it is a picture of our
world, drawn with the pen of the Spirit of God !
But where, in the midst of all this, is the true disciple
found? " Leaning on Jesus' bosom." The weight is laid
on the permanent resting-place. (l Cast thy burden on the
THE SUPTER CHAMBER. 99
Lord, and He Bhall sustain thee." The very posture of the
liple si lows us the repose of his affections in Christ.
What a sweet resting-place for the heart! He who had
not where to lay His head presents His bosom for us to
lean upon. Reader, may this place of nearness and repose
be your place, now that treason is gathering round the
person of the Lord and His truth on every side of us.
" Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should
ask who it should be of whom He spake."
.Mark, reader, there were three kinds of disciples in this
room, corresponding exactly with three in the world now.
There was one very near to Jesus, with a heart filled with
His love ; this was John. There was another, a true disci-
ple, but at a distance, and with the evidences of distance
in his character, hesitation, want of confidence, fear ; this
was Peter. There was another, bearing the profession of
disciple, but with Satan in his heart; this was Judas.
These are the three classes of disciples now in the world,
and there are no others.
But what use did the beloved disciple make of his
nearness ? He used it for the brethren's sake, to ask their
questions, to relieve their minds, and to solve their doubts
and difficulties. Peter, conspicuous on all occasions for
boldness of character, is not generally the last to ask a
question. In this case he is. As he looked on John in
that place of nearness and intimacy, he feels that he is the
one to ask the Lord that question, because the bosom of
Jesus is such a place to ask it from. Words which must
halt with fear and dread anywhere else, may flow freely
there. "Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him." Ah,
the boldest know how to value the disciple leaning on Jesus.
It is with us as with Peter here ; every degree of distance
100 COUSELS FROM THE WORDS OF TRUTH.
from the Saviour is a place of proportionate uncertainty in
our mind towards Him. There is a fellowship and com-
munion with Jesus which can only be had there, "leaning
on His bosom." There are words which a disciple is per-
mitted to speak to the Lord, and which he may need to
speak to Him, and which can be uttered nowhere else. And
the position of the beloved disciple, in this narrative, be-
tokens the entire absence of all doubt. There was no
thought in his mind about personal acceptance with Christ,
not a shadow. It was communion of a much higher order.
In Peter there was doubt and uncertainty, characteristic
of the distance at which he stood. In John there was not
a shadow. He was in the place of the Beloved in the Song,
reposing on the bosom of Jesus, and exclaiming, " lietHim
kiss me with the kisses of His mouth." Blessed posture of
soul \ How few now rise up to it ! And yet it is the
blessed privilege of every child of God.
Mark, dear Christian reader, also, that it was in that
posture the Lord gave His " new commandment," His
commandment of " love " (verses 34, 35). The circum-
stances in which the Lord's words find us affect very much
the manner or degree in which we receive them. If they
come to us reposing on the bosom of Jesus, they will affect
our hearts and minds in a manner and to a degree very dif-
ferent from that in which they will affect us if we are in
the place of distance, like Peter. Contrast the calmness
and quietness and quick spiritual perception of John with
the restlessness and disquiet of Peter. (See verse 37, and
chapter xxi, verse 21, contrasted with John's following
without a command, in verse 20.) What is so noiseless as
the love of Christ ? What makes the heart so calm and
quiet? Hearts make homes. If it be leaning on Jesus'
THE SUPPER CHAMBER. 101
bosom and drinking in His love, there is its home. It
knows no higher, not even in heaven. This is heaven.
Dear Christian reader, if you should have to ask the
Lord a trying and difficult question, go and lay your head
on His bosom first : " He then lying on Jesus' breast saith
unto Him, Lord, who is it?" Depend upon it we can wait
for the answer, whatever it may be, if we are only resting
in Him, reposing on His bosom. Depend upon it, all our
strange prayers and restlessness and disquiet may be
charged upon the distance we live from Christ. Live near
to Christ. Let your prayer be, " earer and yet nearer,
Lord, to Thee." Rest satisfied with no place save the
bosom of Jesus, on which you may fully and freely lean
your aching head, with every weight that shades your
brow or presses upon your heart. Live near, very near,
and there may you be found when God sends for you.
Child of my love, lean hard,
And let me feci the pressure of thy care.
I know thy burden, child, I shaped it,
Poised it in mine own hand, made no proportion
Of its weight to thine unaided strength.
For even as I laid it on, I said,
" I shall be near, and while she leans on me
This harden shall be mine, not hers;
So shall I keep my child within the circling arms
Of mine own love." Here lay it down, nor fear
To impose it on a shoulder which upholds
The government of worlds. Yet closer come,
Thou art not near enough ; I would embrace thy care,
So I might feel my child reposing on my breast.
Thou lovest me } I know it, doubt not then ;
But loving me, lean hard.
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