I mentioned to the wrong person at church that I was missing working with young adults. Next thing I know, a pastor had tracked me down to ask me what night I wanted to have a small group on. Thanks, Martha. Thanks, Micah! we are only two weeks in, but I am loving learning with these women!
We are working through a book that came out earlier this spring from Crossway: Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers by Dane Ortlund. Taking “a Bible Passage or a bit of teaching from the Puritans or others,” Ortlund explores who Jesus is, what He is like, and how He loves. The chapters are short and pithy, with a frequent turn of phrase that makes you reread a sentence for the sheer beauty of the truth revealed.
So, I’ll write up here a few quotes and questions we discussed in this small group (and another group I am a part of). If you want to follow along, you can pick up a copy of the book (or 5 copies to give out and start your own group). We are meeting twice a month and reading two chapters each time, so these posts will show up after our study.
“It is one thing to know the doctrines of the incarnation and the atonement and a hundred other vital doctrines. It is another, more searching matter to know his heart for you” (p. 16).
If you tried to introduce Jesus to someone who doesn’t know Him, how would you describe Him?
Chapter 1: His Very Heart
Key Verse: Matthew 11:29 “I am gentle and lowly of heart.”
“Meek. Humble. Gentle. Jesus is not trigger-happy. Not harsh, reactionary, easily exasperated. He is the most understanding person in the universe” (p. 19).
What is life like for the Christian who thinks they are on some performance treadmill? What happens when you think that Jesus is easily impatient with us?
Jesus described himself as lowly or socially unimpressive. How does His birth story cast light on who He was and who He would pursue?
“You don’t have to unburden or collect yourself and then come to Jesus. Your very burden is what qualifies you to come. No payment is required: He says ‘I will give you rest.’ His rest is gift, not transaction” (pp. 20-21).
“His yoke is kind and his burden is light. That is, his yoke is a nonyoke, and his burden is a nonburden. What helium does to a balloon, Jesus’ yoke does to his followers. We are buoyed along in life by his endless gentleness and supremely accessible lowliness” (p. 23).
How do other religions describe their gods? How is Jesus’ description of Himself antithetical to those deities?
How does Jesus’ description of Himself bring comfort? Challenge your own perceptions of Him?
In what ways does the gentleness and the lowliness of Jesus invite us into knowing Him more?
Chapter 2: His Heart in Action
Key Verse: Matthew 14:14, “And he had compassion on them.”
This chapter begins with reminders of broken, wounded, socially unacceptable people Jesus touched. Which of these moments in the life of Christ are particularly comforting to you? Why is that?
“The dominant note left ringing in our ears after reading the Gospels, the most vivid and arresting element of the portrait, is the way the Holy Son of God moves toward, touches, heals, embraces, and forgives those who least deserve it yet truly desire it” (p. 27).
What are some areas of your life that you consider too broken for Jesus to touch, to forgive?
The book talks about our tendency to be drawn to only part of the character of Jesus, drawn to his grace for example, to the exclusion of his Justice. Reread page 28. In what direction to you see yourself leaning? How does that impact your view of the whole truth about who Jesus is?
“Thomas Goodwin said, ‘Christ is love covered over in flesh.’ Picture it. . .If compassion clothed itself in a human body and went walking around this earth, what would it look like? We don’t have to wonder” (p. 32).
If Jesus walked among us today, who are some of the morally or physically repulsive people you would find Him reaching out to? Where would you be in the crowds? At His feet or watching Him askance?