There are some books that are helpful reads. Other books are resourceful and serve a purpose for years to come. Still others are memorable for decades. And then there are books like Gentle & Lowly by Dane Ortlund. Groundbreaking, compassionate, and immensely helpful, this book will likely point Christians to healing waters for generations to come.
Simple, yet profound, Ortlund’s main premise is that the heart of Jesus is gentle and lowly, and these are his own words (cf. Matt 11:28-30). “This is deeper than saying that Jesus is loving or merciful or gracious. The cumulative testimony of the four Gospels is that when Jesus Christ sees the fallenness of the world around him, his deepest impulse, his most natural instinct, is to move toward that sin and suffering, not away from it.” (Kindle location 377). Perhaps our natural proclivities, due to our adamic nature, is to see ourselves as dastardly hopeless, despite having been justified by faith alone. Christians undoubtedly wrestle with indwelling sin (cf. Rom 7). But, as Ortlund writes, Jesus “…doesn’t just want us to be forgiven. He wants us. How does Jesus speak of his own deepest desires? Like this: ‘Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me'” (John 17:24) (491). This book, therefore, is helpful in changing the Christian’s posture before God, inviting us to approach a Savior that indeed loves his people.
Perhaps most surprisingly is Ortlund’s constant sourcing and referencing of the puritans. One does not expect, in a book about the compassionate heart of Christ for sinners, a stream of puritanical quotes. Yet, Ortlund admits, “This book on Christ’s heart would not exist if I had not stumbled upon the puritans and especially Thomas Goodwin. It is Goodwin more than anyone who has opened my eyes to who God in Christ is, most naturally and easily, for fickle sinners.” (163-164). Indeed, the book is filled with references to Goodwin et. al. Perhaps as an aside, the book promotes reading the puritans- something that is further beneficial to the saints.
All in all, I could offer more by way of review, but, simply put, this book is by far my favorite of 2020. A recent glance at Crossway’s website shows the book (as of this writing) on backorder. This message deeply resonates, and perhaps begs the question ‘why?’ My guess, is that beleaguered souls that have survived legalism, fundamentalism, liberalism, etc. are finding in this work a Gospel of rest. Pastoral, compassionate, healing- Gentle & Lowly is absolutely a must read.