Leaning On Jesus

Title: Leaning On Jesus

Bible Book: John 21 : 20

Author: J. Mike Minnix

Subject: Lord's Supper; Spiritual Commitment; Love for Jesus



As we come to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, let’s look at a parenthetical section of a single Bible verse. In John 21:20, we note a remembrance from the Upper Room where Jesus formerly met with His disciples and where He established what we are participating in today. During that Upper Room experience “the disciple whom Jesus loved” leaned on the breast of Jesus to ask a question. The question concerned the one who would betray Jesus. To me, however, the fact that John was leaning on Jesus is significant, for the Lord’s Supper reminds us that every Christian is, in fact, leaning on Jesus.

The songwriter penned:

“What a fellowship, what a joy divine

Leaning on the everlasting arms;

What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,

Leaning on the everlasting arms.” (Elisha A. Hoffman and Anthony J. Showalter, 1877)

Its dangerous to lean on something that is not solid. Just a few days ago, at a rap concert, people were leaning against a rail separating them from the stage. The rail gave way and the young people fell to the concrete floor below. Those who landed first were then piled upon by those just behind them. One young lady said that she landed on a person who was on the concrete floor but that three or four people fell on top of her after she landed. She said, "I couldn't get my breath - I couldn't breathe. It was really scary!" It is indeed scary to be leaning on something or someone who cannot hold you up when everything else is coming loose. Those leaning on Jesus never have to worry about the railing giving way in life!

Let’s consider three ways in which all true believers are leaning on the Lord.

I. Our Foundation upon Jesus

As John was leaning on Jesus, we can safely say that if Jesus had moved John would have fallen flat on the floor. John had placed all his weight upon the Savior. He was in a position of trust and faith. Trusting Jesus means placing the weight of your faith upon Him and trusting His ability to hold you and secure you against falling. Now, what weight is it that we place upon Jesus as we lean on Him?

A. The Weight of our Sin

John did not yet know that night what the weight of his personal sin was going to cost Jesus on the cross, but his loving act of leaning on Jesus gives us a symbolic picture of what it means to lay our sin upon the Lamb of God. Indeed, Jesus bore our sin at Calvary, the very day after John had leaned on Him at the Last Supper. Unless our sin is laid upon Christ, we will have to bear it at the judgment. The Lord’s Supper is to remind us all to look carefully at our salvation and to know without a doubt that we have trusted Him as Savior.

We read in 2 Corinthains 5:21 (NKJV), "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." Jesus bore out sin at the cross so that we might obtain His righteousness. On the cross our Lord took our sin – every sin – small and great. The weight of that moment is beyond our comprehension. Only the perfect Son of God was able to do that for us. We are leaning on Him with the weight of our sin!

B. The Weight of our Service

Furthermore, John was leaning on Jesus as the only one who empowers true service for God. Does not the Bible remind us that without Him we can do nothing? We read in John 15:5 (NKJV), "“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing." In essence, I don’t work for Him, He works through me!

If the hardship of serving Jesus halts you, your faith was flimsy to start with! Those that lean on Jesus will find the strength to do whatever the Lord requires. John leaned on Jesus and was used by the Lord to write five Bible books – The Gospel According to John; 1, 2, and 3 John, and the Book of Revelation). He wrote the last book while exiled at Patmos, but because He was always leaning on Jesus nothing deterred him from His service! If you are going to serve the Lord faithfully to the end, you will have to lean on Him to the end!

C. The Weight of our Security

Lastly, John knew that something awful was afoot that night in the Upper Room, though he wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. He could feel the tension in the room and, no doubt, he sensed the presence of the evil one lurking in the dark corners of the Upper Room. Jesus was only hours from being arrested because of the betrayal by Judas, followed by horrific persecution at the hands of the Romans and then the nightmarish crucifixion at Calvary. Even in that dark hour, in the Upper Room, fully knowing all that was about to happen, Jesus was holding John firm and secure.

On the Sunday following these events, Jesus rose from the dead and John realized in a deeper and more profound way that he was leaning on the One who lives forever. Those of us who have trusted Jesus as Lord and Savior are not resting the weight of our faith on a religion, a denomination or the works of our hands; we are resting on the living, risen, King of Glory – Jesus. He is our security. The scripture states (NKJV), "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand." (John 10:27-19)

So, we are leaning of Jesus with the weight of our sins, service and security, but note another way in which we lean on Jesus…

II. Our Fellowship with Jesus

John was leaning on Jesus and he was doing so in great fellowship with the Savior. When we are around those we love, we want to touch them. A pat on the shoulder, a handshake, or a hug, is a sign of respect and love. John wanted to be close to Jesus and to enjoy fellowship with Him.

You remember the woman with the issue of blood. She came in faith and merely touched the hem of His garment and she was made whole. There is something wonderful about being in "touch" with Jesus and in true fellowship with Him (Matthew (9:18-22).

The Lord’s Supper reminds us that we have trusted Jesus and He is close to us today. So many of us need that assurance, for we are traveling uneven roads in this life. Always remember that Jesus is the friend closer than a brother! He desires fellowship with you, and He welcomes you to lean on Him.

i. Jesus promised never to leave us nor forsake us. He is in fellowship with us personally.

ii. Jesus promised to intercede for us in heaven, so He is bringing us always and ever to the throne of God.

iii. Jesus promised to meet with us when two or more of us gather in His name, so even as we meet here to take the Lord’s Supper we can be sure that He is here!

Think on some ways that John’s fellowship with Jesus was important and why our fellowship with Jesus is significant.

A. John’s Fellowship with Jesus gave Him a Distinctive Perspective

John was close enough to Jesus to see Him in ways that others were not able to see Him. The closer we are to Christ, the deeper our understanding of His grace, love and power will be.

Do you remember the Mount of Transfiguration? John was there! He was able to see Jesus in a brand new light. He saw Him glowing with purity and power in a manner not known to him before. When we get aside with Jesus, when we fully lean on Him, we begin to know Him in a deeper and more definitive way.

At the cross, the only disciple to whom Jesus spoke personally was John. When we are close to Christ, we can hear His directions, His will and His comfort for our lives. Staying close to Him allows us to share in the more important moments of divine labor and purpose.

When Jesus arose from the dead, He came to meet His disciples. He spoke to them by the shore. Look at John 21:7 and you will see that it was John who recognized Him immediately! When you are close to Christ, you realize He is present even when others may not know it.

Let me say it this way, those who lean on Jesus are the ones who see Him more clearly. What is it that the Bible says of John? How do we come close enough to lean on Jesus? The Bible says that John accepted the love of Jesus. He is the disciple Jesus loved!

And then it is recorded that on the Isle of Patmos Jesus appeared to John after the Ascension. John was not alone on that island of exile. Lean on Jesus and you are never alone. Even in your darkest moments, when friends and family cannot meet your need, Jesus will show up!

I heard a preacher at an evangelism conference tell a story many years ago that touched my heart. He told of a family in his church whose mother was getter weaker and they feared she did not have long to live. They asked if the pastor might come by to visit with her. They told him that their mom was not talking much and hoped he might get her to let them know what she was thinking and feeling. The pastor dropped by, was led into the bedroom where the elderly lady was lying. He apologized for not coming by sooner and then relayed what the family had told him. He asked why she was not talking to her family. With a slow pace and reaching down inside for enough breath she said, "Preacher, I ain't got much air left in me. I dediced that I was going to save it to talk with Jesus. So, I lay here and I talk to Him and that is enough." Yes, even when we can't express how we feel to others, or don't have enough energy to do so, we can talk to Jesus. He is that close. We can lean on Him!

Also, when we lean on Jesus in close fellowship, we are allowed to see Him and His mighty works in ways others may not. If you are not seeing God at work in your life, perhaps you are not leaning on Him completely and totally.

Note also that …

B. John’s Fellowship with Jesus gave Him a Divine Purpose

As I mentioned, Christ used John to write 1, 2 and 3 John. He also wrote the Gospel of John. Then, he penned the last book which we find in our New Testament. Fellowship with Jesus will open doors of opportunity for Jesus to use your life for something divine – something worthwhile.

We all feel that we are on this earth to do more than simply take up space. You are a creation of God and His desire is to give you eternal life, so that you might have an abundant life here and life everlasting with Him. This only occurs when we turn from our sin and trust Him as our Savior. When we do that, no labor we carry out in His will is ever in vain. Even giving a cup of cold water to a thirsty person will not go unrewarded in eternity for the child of God acting in His will.

John leaned on Jesus and He experienced a solid rock foundation and a fellowship of sweet repose. But, let me share a third issue related to leaning on Jesus…

III. Our Faithfulness to Jesus

John asked, along with the other disciples, who was to be the betrayer. John was concerned and he didn’t want to be the one who would fail the Lord. He was fearful that he might fall. Now, listen carefully to what I am about to say. Never become haughty and self-righteous. One reason John was so greatly used of the Lord is that he didn’t trust himself – he trusted Jesus. Pride goes before the fall and arrogance is pure ignorance. The Bible states in 1 Corinthians 10:12, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall (NKJV).” The indifferent and apathetic Christian is in danger of failing the Lord. Leaning on Jesus resists the self-confidence that leads to self-destruction. If you are to be faithful in your walk with Jesus, you must humbly lean on Jesus.


The late R.G. Lee preached the sermon, Payday Someday, right in this church some years ago. What a great preacher he was. Well, he used to tell a story in one of his sermons – a story that came from his childhood.

Lee told of a time when he was a boy lying on the porch watching his mother sew. With his face in his hands, lying on his stomach, he looked up at his mother's aging hands. He asked her, “Mother, what was the greatest event in your life?”

He thought she might tell about the time she met his father, her wedding, or maybe even the day he was born. But she began to tell a story R.G. Lee never forgot.

She told of the time her father went off to fight in the Civil War. It was a terrible time of deprivation and hardship. Her mother told her to wait, for one day her daddy would come home. Then, one day, the most awful thing that could ever happen to a family with someone away at war took place at their home. A man came and told them that their husband and father had been killed. Little R.G. Lee listened with rapt attention, now enthralled by his mother’s story.

The man told R.G. Lee's mother that her husband had been badly wounded in a battle at Shiloh and was dead. R.G. Lee's mother went on to tell how they cried and cried and prayed to God to help them. She told how her mother had kept the farm going. They had plowed a mule by themselves and planted the crops with their own hands. The beans came in and they went out to pick them and then settled on the front porch to “break beans.

She told little R.G. Lee that she and her mom, (R.G. Lee’s grandmother) had been working those beans on the front porch for a while when they looked up the road and saw a man coming their way. Lee's mother said, “My mother, your grandmother, looked at me and said, 'Lookey yonder, coming up the road, there is a man walking who holds his shoulders just the way your daddy used to. And look, he moves his feet kinda’ like your daddy used to move his feet. And look how he, ... it don't just look like your daddy, honey, it is your daddy.'”

She and her mother threw the beans straight up in the air and started running down the road! She told how she followed her mother who outran her. He was alive – R.G. Lee’s grandfather was not killed at Shiloh – he was alive! There had been some mistake. He had been badly wounded and had lost an arm. For weeks he had been unable to remember much of anything.

“Son,” R.G. Lee's mother said, “That was the most exciting event in my life. My mother just cried and held on to daddy for a long time and then we went into the house together. I cannot tell you how good it felt!"

The world believes Jesus is dead. The world sees Christians as weak and lame. They see us plodding down here in this world they think we are finished. But one day, sweet child of God, you are going to look up and say, “That sounds like Jesus.” And, “That looks like Jesus coming there!” And then you will say, “Praise God! that is Jesus.”

Are you leaning on Jesus? I mean, are you resting your only hope of salvation on Him? Before we receive the elements in the Lord’s Supper today, I feel there is someone here in this service who needs to lean on Jesus. You need to turn from your sin by placing them on Him. That is why He died for you.

Most in the service today gave your lives to the Lord long ago, but are we fully leaning on Him? Is it some forgiveness you need? Is it a weight of trouble you are trying to carry? Do you need someone to understand what you are going through? Turn to Jesus and lean on Him this very day.

Posted in


Scroll to Top