In his book Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers, Dane Ortlund shares Spurgeon’s observation, “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.” That one place is Matthew 11:28–29: “Come to me, all who labour 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.” Jesus tells his disciples, and us, that he is “gentle and lowly in heart.” He is kind and humble. He is therefore approachable. As Ortlund puts it, “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.” I love this last sentence.
When I read this the other night, I was struck with Jesus’ gracious invitation for me to come to him and to experience his gentle, meek, and humble concern for me as an individual. And to think: All of this is for free! His arms are wide open as I carry my burdens to him. He doesn’t promise to take my burdens away. He doesn’t promise to give me a life of ease. Rather, like a yoked ox, he helps me with the load. And thus together we are productive in his field.
These verses in Matthew are among the first that I memorised some forty years ago. But not until the last couple of days have I come to appreciate their glorious depth of meaning and encouragement. It’s as though I am meeting Jesus all over again. I am seeing truths about him that I have only dimly seen before. Of course, I have the triune God to thank for this, for this new appreciation is another of his many acts of grace to me. Like so many other gifts, this new understanding is coming to me for free. In more ways than one.
Crossway Publishers recently gifted 14,000 copies of Ortlund’s book to Imprint ministry for distribution in South Africa. Wow! What an amazing gift—and it’s all for free!
In recent months, I have read many reviews of this book and they have all highly recommend it. Mark Dever commented that it is one of the best books he has ever read. That is saying something. And having read the first couple of chapters, I think I will end up with the same conclusion.
The book is both simple and profound and for this reason I am exercising self-control and reading only one chapter a day (each chapter is only a few pages). There is so much of the beauty of Jesus on these pages that a slow and meditative reading is called for.
Imprint is making a copy available to every member of BBC. They will be available for collection this Sunday at the three scheduled services as well as at other times per arrangement with Tommie at the church office.
In God’s wonderful providence, this book has arrived in these burdensome times. Let me encourage you to get a copy, prayerfully read it, and let it be a means to help us to come to Jesus anew. We need the reminder that he is gentle and lowly, and that he invites us to come to him. And remember, it’s free.
Reading and learning—I hope—with you,