Easily one of the best books I have read this past year is Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Suffers by Dane Ortlund. It is filled with one profound truth after another. I’ve read it through twice and keep coming back to it for encouragement and nourishment for my own soul.
Central to Ortlund’s book is Matthew 11:28-30 where Jesus describes himself as “gentle and lowly in heart.” Dane goes through the pages of Scripture and through the writings of some of the best-known Puritans to expound on this great truth.
Here are a few quotes from the beginning of this excellent book:
“A wife may tell you much about her husband – his height, his eye color, his eating habits, his education, his job, his handiness around the house, his best friend, his hobbies, his Myers-Briggs personality profile, his favorite sports team. But what can she say to communicate his knowing gaze across the table over a dinner at their favorite restaurant?
That look that reflects years of ever-deepening friendship, thousands of conversations and arguments through which they have safely come, a time-ripened settling into the assurance of embrace, come what may? That glance that speaks in a moment his loving protection more clearly than a thousand words? In short, what can she say to communicate to another her husband’s heart for her?
It is one thing to describe what your husband says and does and looks like. It is something else, something deeper and more real, to describe his heart for you.”
Ortlund goes on throughout the rest of the book to describe from Scripture the heart of Jesus for his followers:
“My dad pointed out to me something that Charles Spurgeon pointed out to him. In the four Gospel accounts given to us in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – eighty-nine chapters of biblical text – there’s only one place where Jesus tells us about his own heart.”
“But in only one place – perhaps the most wonderful words ever uttered by human lips – do we hear Jesus himself open up to us his very heart:
“Come to me, all who labor and are heaven laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 ESV)
“Meek. Humble. Gentle. Jesus is not trigger-happy. Not harsh, reactionary, easily exasperated. He is the most understanding person in the universe. The posture most natural to him is not a pointed finger but open arms.”
“’Gentle and lowly.’ This, according to his own testimony, is Christ’s very heart. This is who he is. Tender. Open. Welcoming. Accommodating. Understanding. Willing. If we are asked to say only one thing about who Jesus is, we would be honoring Jesus’s own teaching if our answer is, gentle and lowly.
If Jesus hosted his own personal website, the most prominent line of the ‘About Me’ dropdown would read: GENTLE AND LOWLY IN HEART.”
“The cumulative testimony of the four Gospels is that when Jesus Christ sees the fallenness of the world all about him, his deepest impulse, his most natural instinct, is to move toward that sin and suffering, not away from it.”
“And what did he [Jesus] do when he saw the unclean? What was his first impulse when he came across prostitutes and lepers? He moved toward them. Pity flooded his heart, the longing of true compassion. He spent time with them. He touched them. We all can testify to the humaneness of touch. A warm hug does something warm words of greeting alone cannot.
But there is something deeper in Christ’s touch of compassion. He was reversing the Jewish system. When Jesus, the Clean One, touched an unclean sinner, Christ did not become unclean. The sinner became clean.”
“Jesus gives God a face, and that face is steaked with tears.” (Philip Yancey)
“And He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation.” (Colossians 1:15 NASB)
“And He [Jesus] is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature and upholds all things by the word of His power.” (Hebrews 1:3 NASB)