I get people telling me all the time, “You should read such-and-such book.” I don’t always give in when someone recommends a book to me. I’m not opposed to book recommendations, but I know what I like and I’m not going to read something unless it fits within the bounds of what I like. (There’s also a good chance that I’ll forget the book title and never follow up, but that’s a whole different issue for another day.)

A few weeks ago, my pastor raved about a book that he had recently read. He even mentioned to me that the book made such an impact on him that he reread it immediately after finishing it. He’s a pretty voracious reader with tastes that are similar to mine, so when he recommends books, I trust his judgment.

So I bought Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers by Dane Ortlund. This isn’t necessarily a book review, but I definitely recommend it.

Some books fundamentally change your life, while others give you a deeper appreciation for the truth you already know. This book belongs in the latter category. To borrow one of Ortlund’s descriptions of Jesus in the book, Gentle and Lowly “provides new sharpness to who God is, but not fundamentally new content.”[1]

Ortlund bases his text on Jesus’ only description of His own heart in the New Testament:

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. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. –Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV)

The author expounds on this description with supporting scriptures from both the Old and New Testaments, along with writings and sermons from the Puritans that explore the heart that Jesus as God’s Son has for those who come to Him as they struggle.

In our most human moments, we can think of Jesus – and by extension, God the Father – as a harsh disciplinarian who’s ready to smite us when we trip up. It’s easy to think of Jesus as wanting to smack us upside the head in response to our sins, as though He says, “you of little faith” through gritted teeth rather than in a caring sigh.

Ortlund writes:

Fallen, anxious sinners are limitless in their capacity to perceive reasons for Jesus to cast them out. We are factories of fresh resistances to Christ’s love. Even when we run out of tangible reasons to be cast out, such as specific sins or failures, we tend to retain a vague sense that, given enough time, Jesus will finally grow tired of us and hold us at arm’s length.[2]

That sentiment couldn’t be farther from the truth. Ortlund shows how Jesus’ heart is for us to run back to Him when we stumble and receive the grace and love that only He can provide.

His death and resurrection make it just for Christ never to cast out his own, no matter how often they fall. But animating this work of Christ is the heart of Christ. He cannot bear to part with his own, even when they most deserve to be forsaken.

“But I …”

Raise your objections. None can threaten these invincible words: “Whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”

For those united to him, the heart of Jesus is not a rental; it is your new permanent residence. You are not a tenant; you are a child. His heart is not a ticking time bomb; his heart is the green pastures and still waters of endless reassurances of his presence and comfort, whatever our present spiritual accomplishments. It is who he is.[3]

Sometimes we just need to reframe the way we think about Jesus and His heart. Ortlund reminds us throughout the book that Jesus’ heart for His people is one of infinite love and care, that He wants to remind us that we’re His. Fresh encouragement is on every page of this book, and it’s worth reading for the reassurance of who Jesus is and what He does for those who love and trust Him.

Are you struggling to come to grips with suffering? Do you feel weighed down by your sins? Or are you like me: in a good place in your spiritual journey, but you could use some reminders of Jesus’ heart? Read Gentle and Lowly and appreciate the easy yoke and light burden that Jesus provides.



[1] Ortlund, D. (2020). Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers (pp. 135–136). Wheaton, IL: Crossway.

[2] Ortlund, D. (2020). Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers (p. 63). Wheaton, IL: Crossway.

[3] Ortlund, D. (2020). Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers (p. 66). Wheaton, IL: Crossway.


Check out the previous installments in Chris Queen’s Liberty Island writings on faith:

The Pitfalls of Emotional Christianity

My Church Heritage and How It Shaped Me

What I’ve Learned from Reading a Systematic Theology

A Faith-Drenched View of the South

Faith or Moralism?

Not My Home

The Quality We Miss the Most