The Heart of Jesus

“There are many false Jesuses out there to defraud you, right where you need help the most.” I recently read that sentence in a book by Ray Ortlund and it resonated with me. Have you ever been defrauded? The word means to be duped, swindled, or deceived. Usually money is involved. But let’s be honest. Spiritual defraud is more devastating than financial fraud.  

When we fail colossally, experience dysfunction, sink in worry, or wither in emptiness, will we find the real Jesus to help us with our real problems? Or will we get defrauded—again—by one of those false Jesuses?  

The false Jesus doesn’t understand. He doesn’t welcome you back. He’s not approachable. I fell into the embrace of that false Jesus more than a few times. Ray was right. He defrauded me, right where I needed help the most. I’m never going back. 

I found the real Jesus right where I left Him—in the Bible. He wasn’t hiding. He hadn’t gone anywhere. He was in plain sight. I found him in one of those places where the real Jesus pulls back the curtain and tells us straight up what He’s really like and why we can trust Him. Matthew 11:25-30. 

At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Three truths about the heart of Jesus stand out in that passage. If we see them, believe them, and respond, they’re game changers. 

Jesus Has a Submissive Heart—He Understands: Humanly speaking, this chapter would be one of the low points in Jesus’ ministry. He has faced rejection after rejection from every city he has visited. He taught crowds, performed miracles, healed sickness, even raised the dead—indisputable miracles and displays of power—and yet, no responses other than apathy and unbelief. No disciples. 

If you’d expect fruit from anywhere during the ministry of Jesus, it would be these cities where mighty works were performed. But they were indifferent. They were entertained, but not engaged. Not committed. Not changed. Not even interested. From a human standpoint, it must have felt crushing. This was his own people. He came to them first. And yet, Jesus submitted. “I thank you Father…” and “Yes, Father, this is your will.” 

“Thank you, Father” is not usually my first thought when a crushing wave of rejection comes from intense ministry. It’s not even my fifth thought. Neither is “Yes, God. This is your will.” But what can arise from my lips—if I understand this passage—is a confession that Jesus understands my disappointment. He is no stranger to the pain of rejection that I feel right now. He can sympathize with me. He can co-suffer. Jesus gets me in a way nobody else does. Indeed, he gets me in a way nobody else can. 

He submitted when it was hard. He has been “tempted” and “tested” just like me, except he passed the test. The strains and pressures were much worse for him. He has solidarity with me on my difficult path because he has walked it himself. 

He knows what it’s like to suffer want, face rejection, continue in exhaustion, endure persecution, and to face loneliness—when you need friends the most. Therefore, he “can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward” (Hebrews 5:2). 

So don’t think for a second that Jesus can’t understand the disappointments in your life. That career choice that tanked. Your longings to have a family of your own that never materialized. The marriage you thought you had that turned sour. Kids going astray. Chronic sickness. Money issues. Debilitating depression. Sudden loss. Weakness. Abuse. He knows. He sees. He cares. He understands.  

He has faced it all, and didn’t cave. He didn’t resent his Father. He didn’t rebel, run, or retaliate. Jesus understood that, even in his rejection by his own people, his Father’s plan was being carried out meticulously. And He was fully surrendered to that plan, even when it brought heartache and pain. Jesus was a man of sorrows acquainted with grief.

It’s okay to cry. Go ahead. Jesus cried. But as you shed those tears, know that your suffering has meaning. It did not happen apart from God’s providence and sovereign control of history. He is orchestrating all events from the smallest to the greatest. 

God remains on his throne. And Jesus shows us that we can bow to His wisdom when we endure hardship. Jesus did. His heart was submissive. He thanked God for carrying out his plan, even when it brought pain. And it did. 

Those towns were blind to the true nature of Jesus. But Jesus Himself, so far from feeling personal resentment, thanked God that there were some, (babes), who turned to Him. We see His submissive heart. 

Jesus is rolling with God’s plan. His prayer shows it. Who is God drawing to Himself? Desperate people. Needy people. Broken people. Spiritually exhausted people. People at their wits end. Sinners and sufferers. They need to know they are welcomed into the arms of the only one who truly understands. And he bids them to come.

More on that next point next week…