Gentle and Lowly: Discussion of Chapter 12 — A Tender Friend

Hi @Interested_In_Book_Studies,

Friendship is a vital but often neglected part of life. It is quickly crowded out by the necessities of work and chores. It can come after we’ve enjoyed entertainment or stay casual in the midst of busyness.

And yet, from God’s perspective, he calls us his friends. God makes his heart and his schedule fully available to us.

In this chapter Ortlund points out that:

In Matthew 11:19 Jesus quotes his accusers as contemptibly calling him “a friend of tax collectors and sinners!” (that is, a friend of the most despicable kinds of sinners known in that culture).

What does it mean that Christ is a friend to sinners? At the very least, it means that he enjoys spending time with them. It also means that they feel welcome and comfortable around him.

Here is the promise of the gospel and the message of the whole Bible: In Jesus Christ, we are given a friend who will always enjoy rather than refuse our presence.

Jesus wants to come in to you—wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, naked you—and enjoy meals together. Spend time with you. Deepen the acquaintance.

The conditions of our friendship with Jesus are well established.

He wants to be our friend, but only in the context of truth.

If we are to come into his presence, we must be honest about who we are and what we need.

We have a fundamental spiritual loneliness that is only healed through an ongoing friendship with Jesus.

Living on our own — independent of a friendship with Jesus — is the context in which we continue to sin.

But as we open our hearts to God and know him as a friend, we are also drawn to gladly live for his purposes.

Ortlund thoughtfully points us to the reality that this is a real friendship. It is not just opening our hearts to Jesus. No, Jesus gives us the gift of ‘going second.’

He has already opened wide his heart to us:

On the verge of going to the cross, Jesus tells them, “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15). Jesus’s friends are those to whom he has opened up his deepest purposes.

I think it appropriate to pause and worship Jesus for sharing all that he has heard from the Father with us. What a gift of vulnerability and openness from God to us!

Finally, I particularly cherished Ortlund’s summary of what is on his heart:

What I am trying to say in this chapter is that the heart of Christ not only heals our feelings of rejection with his embrace, and not only corrects our sense of his harshness with a view of his gentleness, and not only changes our assumption of his aloofness into an awareness of his sympathy with us, but it also heals our aloneness with his sheer companionship.

Discussion questions:

  1. How is your heart encouraged to meditate on the news that Jesus is a constant friend?

  2. What habits would deepen your friendship with Jesus?


Ahhh my friend, what I have found is that God is always working, (John 5:17) and it is His great hand and plan that works to direct my heart to Him. At least for me, I have found that His hand is working in ways I do not comprehend and usually it is not my diligence or habits that gets me closer to Our Lord, but it is trials and tribulations that peel away the world from my heart:
1 Peter 4:14 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.
Romans 5:3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;
Though it might sounds strange to hear, I pray that His mighty hand peel away the world in each of our hearts to that we might see Him clearly and love our brothers and sisters and even those who hate us so that they too might one day see Him too! :slight_smile: Grace and peace my friends


I am glad that he wants to hang out with sinners. This means that he wants to be around me–or, he wants me to be around him! It is interesting that self-righteous people hated him because he befriended unrighteous people. If only they saw their own unrighteousness they would have experienced the same happiness as the sinners with which Jesus spent his time. I have heard it said that when the student is ready the teacher appears. Jesus appeared to those who were ready to see him. I also cannot be a deist knowing that Jesus is a friend to sinners. Jesus wants to be too close to be distant. The two do not fit together.

Solitary prayer and meditating on the Bible have deepened my friendship with him. I have come to appreciate his desire for intimacy with me. I have become more intimate with him as a result. I have been able to share things with him that I could not even share with my wife–certain work matters, for example. I have come to a greater appreciation for how he talks to me. I love that hymn, “In the Garden,” (I come to the garden alone…) because it talks about how he walks and talks with me and tells me that I am his own. There is no place on Earth that I would rather be than with him.

Addendum: I recall that he liked to call himself “Son of Man.” Maybe this was not only a reference to the son of man in Daniel 7:13. Maybe this signaled his bond of friendship with humanity. People call themselves children of things or people in whose identity they feel a sense of pride and belonging. Jesus was saying, “We have a special bond, you and I. I am a child of Adam and Eve, just like you.”


Greetings Carson, I applaud you for this article, my heart grieves that most Christians are more knowledgeable of the gospel of sin management whether from dogma or law and rarely do they comprehend the gospel that Christ preached was the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven. Surely there is a difference and one of the most important aspects of the difference is exactly what you wrote here ,
" heart of Christ not only heals our feelings of rejection with his embrace, and not only corrects our sense of his harshness with a view of his gentleness, and not only changes our assumption of his aloofness into an awareness of his sympathy with us, but it also heals our aloneness with his sheer companionship." For the Kingdom is alive with Christ living existentially (moment by moment, with us being aware) within our hearts! For instance, if we were to walk through the forest with our best friend, we would see that we are talking, sharing, dialoguing, questions, a vast plethora of communication between us. This is exactly what is happening even at this moment, Christ is alive, wanting to dialogue with us, but even more, He knows everything, so from my perspective, when I am walking along physically through the forest, if there were an unseen bystander, he would hear me talking to someone (Christ) although they could not see Him I do in the eyes of my heart and experiencing Him (Psalm 34:8) and I am overjoyed and in my heart I am whisked away into His kingdom, not so unlike a fairy tail kingdom yet God’s Kingdom is alive, with us, all around us, and yes you over time, with great meditation, prayer, humility, desire and passion can experience it too. The problem with Christianity (as seen from Mahatma Ghandi is that Christians tend to be bad examples/representation of Christ). Please do not take that negatively, it is a challenge to know that there is oh so much more to life, i.e. how to be led by The Holy Spirit (Rom 8:14). So to your discussion 1: My heart is encouraged beyond words, beyond comprehension is surely ineffable, that I indeed have a “woke” experience and relationship with Christ this is in harmony with the Holy Spirit based on a Sacred Romance of His never ending love! 2: My habits would flow from my heart, never needing to think about actions but would operate on the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Oh that these would be the go to actions to display to an unbelieving world! And what would the result be: to shut the mouths of the obstreperous to the Praise and Glory of the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, The Great I am! Amen Grace and Peace my friends! :slight_smile:


How is your heart encouraged to meditate on the news that Jesus is a constant friend?

Wow! There are so many wonderful thoughts and truths to meditate on in this chapter! Some seem almost too good to be true…like nice sentiments about Jesus that some one came up with. And yet they are the revelations of His heart, written down in the Scriptures, for us to read and remember.

I admit, it is difficult at times for me to fully believe that Jesus actually ‘likes’ me and wants to be with me. It seems easier to accept that He ‘loves’ me, kind of like He has to because He’s God. But He wants to be my Companion,
He wants to listen to my thoughts, my cares, my desires. He wants to share His heart and thoughts and desires with me as well. And the incredible thing is that He never seems to be offended and turn on His heel when I have not been attentive to Him or have even ignored Him! His friendship is constant, steadfast, faithful.

What habits would deepen your friendship with Jesus?
Spending time with Him. Giving Him my full attention when I’m praying.
Talking to Him through out the day.
Listening for His voice and believing He wants to, and will, speak to me. Most of all, accepting His acceptance of me, especially when I’m feeling unworthy and like I am failing Him.
Holding on to fact that His friendship is not based on my behavior but on Who He is.

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