Jesus is always inviting us to come closer. We want to respond to the invitation to draw near to Jesus, knowing that His heart towards us is always good, always kind and always loving. This might feel like a recalibration for many after a year and a half apart and we want our compasses to point as one to Jesus. We’ll be digging into teaching inspired by Dane Ortlund’s book of the same name. This book reflects on Jesus' words that he is 'gentle and lowly in heart' and what it means for sinners and sufferers today.
How do you think Jesus sympathises with us? How might he relate to what we’ve been through? What does it look like for him to empathise with our weaknesses? Jesus is as approachable and compassionate as he was when he walked the earth. It is in ‘our weaknesses’ that Jesus sympathises with us. ‘Sympathise' here is not cool and detached pity. It is a depth of solidarity such as is echoed in our own lives most closely only as parents to children. Indeed it is even deeper than that. In our pain, Jesus is pained; in our suffering, he feels the suffering as his own even though it isn’t.
He Has Compassion
Have you allowed Jesus to move toward you in your suffering, sadness or disappointment? How can we in turn have compassion for the people of our town? The testimony of the four gospels is that when Jesus Christ sees the brokenness of the world all about him, his deepest impulse, his most natural instinct, is to move toward that sin and suffering, not away from it. When Jesus touched an unclean sinner, Christ did not become unclean. The sinner became clean. Jesus’ earthly ministry was one of giving back to undeserving sinners their humanity. He walked the earth re-humanising the dehumanised and cleaning the unclean.
Subject To Weakness
What does it look like for Jesus to be gentle with us? Scripture tells us that Jesus advocates for us in our weakness, but what does this mean? In ancient Israel the King represented God to the people, while the priest represented the people to God. We today need a priest, no less than the ancient Israelites, and our priest is Jesus Christ. Jesus does not dismiss sinners or the lost. He is calm, tender, soothing, restrained. He deals with us gently.
Gentle & Humble
When did I last experience peace? What do I need to do for my soul to find rest? How can we be gentle and humble with others? Jesus only tells us once in the four gospels about his own heart: “I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls”. Typically in the New Testament, humility is referred to not as a virtue but in the context of poverty or being weighed down by life circumstances. The humility of Jesus means we can draw close to him. Jesus is accessible and available to each one of us.
Interceding For Us
Have you felt in need of help lately? How does it feel to know that Jesus intercedes and advocates for us? What can you do to draw near to Jesus in response to his movement towards you? We are made right with God not simply by doing good acts consistently, but once we accept the fact that Jesus has already selflessly done this for us with his act of love on the cross. How can we get our heads around this undeserved grace, that not only affects our past actions but also those to come too? It is a reflection of Jesus’ heart for us that he continues to intercede for us. It is a statement of his encouragement, affirmation and solidarity.