Krishna certainly reciprocates with His devotees. Especially those who serve Him selflessly, desiring nothing material in return become an object of His personal love.
Bhishma is considered as one of the principal twelve mahajans, the great devotees of Krishna who know the intricacies of pure devotional service. Yet ironically he fought on behalf of Duryodhana, the personification of evil. In the battlefield of Kuukshetra Bhishma shot arrows at the Pandavas, the most virtuous and pure devotees of Krishna. Such was their devotion to the Lord that Krishna chose to be the driver of the chariot of Arjuna, one of the Pandavas. Yet Bhishma appears to have been an enemy of God and His dear devotees. Yet why is he one of the twelve most specially selected devotees?
He knew the Lord’s mood and mission. Krishna incarnates to protect His devotees and destroy the miscreants. If Bhishma had refused to fight on behalf of Kauravas, there would be no Mahabharata war because Duryodhana’s main hope was Bhishma, and hence he was appointed as the commander-in-chief of the Kaurava army. Since Bhishma chose to support the Kauravas, the Pandavas too garnered support and then Duryodhana also built a huge army. This led to a conglomeration of all the unwanted elements whom Krishna had decided to annihilate. Bhishma was thus responsible for helping Krishna execute His mission. The evidence that Bhishma was dear to Krishna was proven on many occasions during the war.
Once when Bhishma was fighting bravely and creating mayhem in the Pandava rank, Arjuna was discouraged. Krishna pretended to be angry at Bhishma and ran towards him with a chariot wheel as if to kill him. Arjuna jumped down from the chariot and ran behind Krishna and held Him and reminded that Krishna had vowed He wouldn’t lift any weapon in the war, and now he was about to break His vow. Then Arjuna promised to fight harder and bring down Bhishma.
During this incident it externally appeared that Krishna was angry with Bhishma and wanted to kill Him but if that was the case Krishna didn’t have to run towards Bhishma; He could have easily released his sudarshana disc and beheaded Bhishma. Therefore it’s obvious that Krishna was not inimical towards His devotee. He was just having a loving exchange and Srila Prabhupada says Krishna was running towards Bhishma as a lover runs towards His beloved. Besides, during the war Bhishma shot arrows and some of them hit the transcendental body of the Supreme Lord and again SrilaPrabhupada explains this was more like the love bites of a lover. Krishna was enjoying the fighting spirit of His great devotee and the arrows shot by Bhishmaappeared pleasing to Him; it was similar to the throwing of rose petals by some other devotee in a different humor. Different devotees love Krishna and give Him joy in a variety of ways, and Bhishma was giving the joy of chivalrous spirit to Krishna.
Finally the fact that Krishna loved Bhishma is confirmed when Krishna along with Pandavas visited Bhishma to offer him respects while he was lying on the battlefield, about to leave his body. At that time Bhishma offered beautiful prayers in glorification of Krishna and expressed a desire to fix his mind on the beautiful form of Krishna as he was leaving his body. Krishna obliged, and Bhishma further pleaded with the Lord to wait as he is about to depart from this world. It’s interesting that most devotees need to visit God and would be happy to wait to get the Lord’s audience. Here the pure devotee Bhishma gets the Lord to visit him and the Lord waits for his devotee to leave his body.
The pastime of Bhishma teaches us an important lesson that Krishna does care for His devotees who serve Him sincerely and selflessly. Bhishma agreed to be criticized for all time to come for siding with the evil Duryodhana, yet Krishna recognized His sacrifice and love. Krishna also recognized the efforts of Mucukunda and ran to offer him an audience to his cave. Externally it appeared that Krishna was being chased by a demon Kalayavana but the truth was Krishna knew Mucukunda had served him for thousands of years by helping the demi gods and now he was tired and sleeping in a cave. Krishna now chose to reciprocate. As Lord Rama, He also personally visited the devoted Shabari who had been waiting at Matanga rishi’s ashram and remembering and serving the Lord patiently.
Krishna also takes many forms to please His devotees. To please Satyavrata muni He came as a fish, which is externally a smelly species. He even came as a pig to please mother earth.
Krishna’s reciprocation with His sincere devotees is all evident. The billion dollar question now is, “Are we willing to receive Krishna’s love? Do we want to reciprocate with His love?”