Here’s a wonderful way to celebrate Christmas:

30 Reasons Jesus Is Better Than I Think

(30 More Reasons to Come in a future blog post!)

Listened to some music and thought about Jesus this week. Here’s what I jotted down.

1. His forgiveness gets down underneath not just our conscious, willful sins, but everything that is broken within us.

2. He ate lunch with hookers and crooked businessmen, not the conservative seminary professors.

3. Discipleship to him does not involve attaining a minimum bar of competency. No resume is needed. Discipleship to him involves humbling ourselves, putting ourselves low, not high, and anyone can do that, if they will simply let Self die and be swallowed up by light and beauty and joy.

4. Those in union with him are promised that all the haunted brokenness that infects everything—every relationship, every conversation, every family, every email, every wakening to consciousness in the morning, every job, every vacation—everything—will one day be rewound and reversed.

5. Those in union with him are promised that the more darkness and hell we experience in this life, to that degree we will enjoy resplendence and radiance in the next (Rom. 8:17–18).

6. He never, ever asks his friends to walk through a trial that he, as the Pioneer-Author-Founder-Trailblazer (archegos: Heb 2:10; 12:2) has not himself, in an even more profound way, gone through himself.

7. His sinlessness does not encourage him to be aloof from us, holding us at arms length, but a substitute for us.

8. Unlike the laws of ritual cleanliness in Leviticus, Jesus’ touch of messy humans like me does not contaminate him. It cleanses me. In the OT, clean + unclean = unclean. With Jesus, clean + unclean = clean (Mark 1:41).

9. His mercy to sinners is not calculating, scale-weighing, careful. It is lavish, outrageous, unfettered.

10. His atoning death means he is free not to scrutinize. He needs not. All has been wiped clean. Faults remain, not just in our past but in our present. But the whole atmosphere in which we live has been transformed from one of scrutiny, both toward us by God and by us toward others, into one of welcome, both toward us by God and therefore by us toward others.

11. He no longer calls us servants, but friends, and he is the friend of sinners. Of sinners. Many of us are born again, serving the Lord with faithfulness, and have never really swallowed that.

12. He is not an idea or a philosophy or a theory or a framework or even a doctrine. He’s a Person. His blazing wrath upon the impenitent is matched by his gentle embrace of the penitent. He has nothing to say to the righteous (Mark 2:17).

13. He doesn’t resent me, as I do others, though I have given him many reasons to.

14. In all my stumbling and failing, he has not yet said, ‘Enough is enough. I’m out.’ Where sin abounds, grace hyper-abounds (Rom. 5:20).

15. He is incapable of disgust over his children, even his sinning children.

16. He gives rest. He is that of which the sabbath is a shadow; Jesus is the shadow-caster. He doesn’t just forgive our sins; he lets the frenetic RPMs of the heart slow down into calm sanity. And no external circumstance can threaten that rest, as we look to him.

17. The one place in all four Gospels where he opens up to tell us about his own heart—the only place—he says he is ‘gentle and lowly in heart’ (Matt 11:29). Burrow down into the very core of what makes the God-Man tick, the one who wove his own whip to drive the enterprising capitalists from the temple, and you find: gentleness.

18. He is not a tame lion. He is not domesticate-able, predictable, boring. He cannot be caged. Who would want to?

19. He does not give us grace. He gives us himself. He is grace. He is the life, the vitality, the flourishing, the shalom, that we desperately, hauntingly, long for.

20. His brilliant resplendence will, one day soon, make every Hollywood superhero look small and silly.

21. He is both a lamb and a lion. He is the tenderness of which all that is tender is an echo, and also the fierceness to which all that is fierce alludes.

22. His grace is both outside me and inside me. Freely accounted righteousness-grace, through the Son, is credited to me from the outside; freely given godliness-grace, through the Spirit, is worked in me on the inside.

23. He is not averse to dirty, complex, self-justifying jerks. He is averse to dirty, complex, self-justifying jerks who deny they are dirty, complex, self-justifying jerks.

24. He found me. I have already been discovered. I do not need to maneuver and manipulate my life to wriggle my way into the spotlight.

25. His coming into this diseased world means that, as Gandalf told Sam, everything sad is going to come untrue.

26. There was nothing physically attractive about him (Isa. 53:2). He would never have appeared on the cover of Men’s Health. He came as a normal man to both comfort and supernaturalize normal people, not sexy people.

27. He came as a sinless man, not a sinless Superman. He woke up with bed-head. He had zits at 14. He went through puberty. He is not Zeus.

28. He didn’t come mainly to give a pep talk. He came to do what every pep talk is trying to get us impossibly unmotivated people to do.

29. He lost every earthly friend he had while he lived, so that we can have him whatever earthly friends we lose. Even when it’s our fault.

30. He knows what it is to be thirsty, hungry, hated, rejected, taunted, shamed, abandoned, suffocated, tortured, killed.

-Author Dane Ortland (


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