He Is What He Says He Is

by DanWolgemuth on August 21, 2020

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy 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.  (Matthew 11:28–29, ESV)



In heart.

The outstanding new book by Dane Ortlund (Gentle and Lowly – the heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers) has propelled me on a journey of discovery. Contemplation. Confession. And correction.

Jesus. Describing His own heart, uses words that would hardly seem fitting for God. Yet, they are His words. His definition. His personality type.

Gentle escorts me to words like meek. Humble. It is the word that Jesus uses in the Beatitudes. “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5)

And then lowly. A word that certainly overlaps and amplifies “gentle”, but a word with significant fuel to increase the velocity of the meaning. Lowly. “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (lowly).” (James 4:6)

In reality the velocity gained by the word “lowly” adjusts the trajectory of our focus in a downward direction. The heart of Jesus is a heart for the socially unimpressive. A heart for the overlooked. A commitment to the easily ignored.

In the words of the mother of Jesus… “He has shown strength with his arm;
                             he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
              he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
                             and exalted those of humble estate; (Luke 1:51-52, ESV)

In a culture that worships power, control, status, and influence, Jesus steps all over our toes.

Gentle and lowly is not weak and isolated. It is massive power under control, with a focus on the target of His affection and advocacy. A laser beam with a nuclear engine.

A laser that took on His own disciples when they dismissed children. A laser that crossed the electrified fence of sanitized hatred by interacting and caring for a Samaritan woman. A resolve that refused to allow sinners to be used as religious pawns, as a litmus test, as kindling for the bonfire of the theologically elite. An unbridled commitment to those relegated to the margins of society. He touched the dead, healed on the Sabbath, and redefined “unclean”. Not as an act of Biblical defiance, but in a step of missional fulfillment. The uncontainable love of God with skin on. “The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, ‘” (Exodus 34:6)

He unleashed justice on those who used the Law as a club, and He flipped over the tables of the economic double standard leveraged by those with religious clout.

Like Samson, Jesus stood between two pillars at the end of His life. One, the systemic self-righteous legalism leveraged by those with power to exploit, manipulate and marginalize those on the outside. The other pillar; self-condemnation, shame, despair, hopelessness, that manifested itself in unbridled secularism.

Like Samson, His death destroyed what culture, tradition, lies, lust and selfishness had constructed. The pillars crumbled… because He is gentle and lowly. And as the institutions of our own creation fall, His foundation stands. It is why He alone can promise rest for our souls.

Gentle and lowly. As victor, not victim. As conqueror, not casualty. As liberator, not slave.

A laser. Focused on the bottom, not the top. The least and not the lofty.

In stark contrast. Countercultural. Outrageous.

“I am gentle and lowly of heart…”

He is, what He says He is.

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