One of the disciples, the one Jesus loved, was leaning back on Jesus’s chest.
Has anyone ever let you close enough to hear the rhythm of their heartbeat? Perhaps when you were young your mother or father let you rest your head against their chest and listen. Or maybe as a child you and your closest friend would take a break from playing to listen to that mysterious rhythm in each other. Or perhaps a lover opened their heart to you and let you hear that secret song that plays within them.
It’s not often that another person lets you in so close that you can hear their beating heart. In fact, being given the privilege to put your ear against someone’s chest is such a personal and vulnerable display of affection—you could almost say the pulse within them is the sound of their love for you.
I’ve always wondered—in that moment described in the verse above, did John get near enough to hear it? That night, as that group of thirteen friends ate their final meal together, was John able to hear the pulse of Jesus’s heart?
If he did, he would have heard something that he had never imagined. He expected to hear Jesus’s love for him. Yes, this certainly. That rhythm within Jesus’s chest—lubb-dubb, lubb-dubb, lubb-dubb—it was the heart of a friend that loved John dearly. Yes—but as John listened, content in the warm embrace of love, he heard something astonishing.
Inside that chest—yes, John could hear the tender love that diligently and carefully crafted all the mysteries of Creation. Indeed, a love that, moment by moment, steadfastly holds them all together. In that chest—yes, was a love so deep that it wrapped around the entire world. Indeed, a heart that beat deeper than the universe.
This couldn’t just be the heart of a man. (No, no—human love was not this profound.)
Truly, it was the heart of God.
John was rapt. Like a frightened infant who thinks itself alone, all of the sudden being found safe in mother’s arms and before her smiling face. This experience imprinted itself on him so much that he would later come to describe himself as “the one who leaned back against Jesus” (John 21:20).
The story of Jesus is the story of a God whose love reaches deeper than you could ever imagine. His is a love that overflows even the bottomless Deep. Yes, a Love that even took for itself such a fragile thing as a human heart—so that, laying your head against his chest, you would be able to know how deeply God’s heart beats with love for you.
Some say that when two people come to know and to love each other deeply enough, their hearts will begin to beat to the same rhythm.
Jesus welcomes you to come near and hear the divine heart that beats inside him.
Draw close to the heart of Jesus and, like John, you may just hear a love that beats deeper than the universe. And when you hear it, you may just find that your heart begins to beat in a new way. Yes, a heart that forgives instead of resents, a heart that is patient rather than easily angered, a heart that gives its possessions freely instead of holding on to them. Yes, your heart will begin to beat in rhythm with the heart of God.