Resting on the Lord’s Bosom

Posted on June 14, 2019


By David Ettinger

Divine Intimacy
“Bosom” is an archaic word. In fact, where some versions of the Bible employ “bosom,” the NASB and KJV among them, others such as the NIV and ESV use the terms “next to” and “side.”

In the context I’m writing on, I much prefer the word “bosom” as it communicates an intimacy the more modern terms do not. And when we consider that the two personalities involved are Jesus and the disciple He loved, the apostle John, the word “bosom” is even more appropriate.

The scene is Jesus’ final Passover, and he and the apostles are reclining at the table. We read: “There was reclining on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23). As I read this verse recently, I thought, “Oh to be in that place!”

Cultural Background
During the time of Jesus, it was the custom during meals to lie on one’s side on a low couch or even on the floor with the head at a low table and feet pointing away.[1] At the Passover feast, or Seder, John was reclining on Jesus’ bosom, not only because of the cultural style of eating, but also because at Passover meals reclining to the left was part of the ceremony.[2]

It is fitting that of the 12, it was John who was sitting closest to Jesus since he was the disciple “whom Jesus loved.” This is not to say that Jesus did not love the other 11 – Judas included – but that John held a special place in His heart.

Wanting to Be There
Today of course, the sight of an individual leaning on another individual’s chest during a meal would strike us as strange, but culturally at that time it was completely natural and would not have raised an eyebrow.

But beyond the cultural normality of the practice, what struck me most was a sense of envy at being close enough to the Lord as to feel comfortable assuming such an intimate position.  

In my younger days, I had to fight an overconfident and cocky attitude. I never had a problem expressing my opinions and often did so in unbiblical fashion. This was a problem in my late 20s all the way into my 40s, but I have worked hard the past 15 years to mold my behavior in conformity to biblical mandate.

These days, as I have allowed myself to be shaped by God’s transformative and chastening hand, I no longer feel the need to make bold proclamations and draw attention to myself. Rather, I much prefer blessed quietness, to just rest my head on the Savior’s bosom and feel the peace that comes with it.

Age has a way of humbling us, and if we react properly to it, it will lead us into the arms and bosom of the Lord Jesus.

Rare Introspection
I much prefer explaining the Word of God than engaging in introspection, and I’m careful to restrict such occasions, but once in a while, in the pain, anguish, and disappointments of life, sometimes it is nice just to say, “Lord, I’m tired and need a break, physically and emotionally. If you don’t mind, I’d just like to recline my head on Your bosom and rest for a while. Would that be all right?”

Resting on the Lord’s bosom – it’s a beautiful place to be.

[1] The Moody Bible Commentary, P. 1641.

[2] Ibid, P. 1646