I read this book by Dane Ortlund as a member of Reading Group organised by the Presbyterian Church of Wales. The twenty three short but revealing chapters discuss the love to be found in Jesus’s heart. Ortlund’s research is very thorough and primarily based on the teachings of the 17th century Biblical scholars of the age of the Puritans. He refers to the works of Goodwin, Sibbes, Bunyan, Owen and others and the discussion enriched by quotations chosen from their published works. Ortlund refers to them in his introduction as ‘channels’. They enable us to see familiar sections of the Bible in a new light with a greater appreciation of the love in Jesus’s heart.

I had to concentrate to follow Ortlund’s reasoning and to get used to his style and language. I found some chapters quite challenging and required a second reading. It is worth persevering and his selection of passages from the Bible enabled me to continue on my journey to the final chapter.

Discussing this book in a reading group gave me the opportunity to hear other interpretations and points of view and to get a better understanding. Each week one of us would present specific chapters before we divided into smaller discussion groups. I found the meetings and discussions invaluable and I am grateful to all the members for sharing their thoughts and views. They revealed so much more in this book than I would have had reading it on my own.

The book asks the all important question: ‘Who is Jesus?’ Gentle and Lowly opens doors to the love that is Jesus’ heart.

It offers answers to Ortlund’s initial questions ‘Who is he? Who is he really?’ He does not claim to have all the answers but his book is an important contribution towards our understanding of the enormous, deep and everlasting love that is in Jesus’ heart. It enabled me to appreciate his closing remarks:

‘Go to him. All that means is, open yourself up to him. Let him love you. The Christian life boils down to two steps:

  1. Go to Jesus.
  2. See #1.’

This volume may not be everyone’s taste but my hope is that you’ll also become intrigued and will give it a go. Take your time… consider what you’ve read and re-read sections as necessary. I thoroughly enjoyed the book – it’s challenging and thought provoking. I found Russell Moore’s remarks summed the book succinctly:

‘In this timely work, Dane Ortlund directs our attention back to the person of Jesus. Centered on the Scriptures and drawing upon the best of the Puritan tradition, Ortlund helps us see the heart of God as it is revealed to us in Christ.

He reminds us not only of Jesus’s promises of rest and comfort, but of the Bible’s vision of Jesus: a kind and gracious King.’

Written by: Rhys Jones is an elder at Shiloh CM Chapel, Lampeter. He is a newly appointed staff member at Coleg Trefeca. Previously he was on the staff at the National Library of Wales.