FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Can Jesus Still Care When I Mess Up? Dane Ortlund

with Dane Ortlund | March 14, 2024
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Are you longing for someone to care about you? Dave Ortlund unpacks Ephesians 5 revealing the true character of Jesus. Does Jesus love me? Could Jesus actually care for me even though I have messed up?

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

Are you longing for someone to care about you? Dave Ortlund unpacks Ephesians 5 revealing the true character of Jesus. Does Jesus love me? Could Jesus actually care for me even though I have messed up?

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Can Jesus Still Care When I Mess Up? Dane Ortlund

With Dane Ortlund
March 14, 2024
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Dane: We tend to think we know what Jesus is like; who He is. But for many of us, actually, we are cold and flat in our Christian life, and we don’t know why. And the reason may be that the Jesus that we think is there is a junior varsity, decaffeinated bobblehead Jesus.

Shelby: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Shelby Abbott, and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson. You can find us at

Dave: This is FamilyLife Today!

Ann: We’re going to listen to a message today from Pastor Dane Ortlund that he gave on our cruise, the Love Like You Mean It® marriage cruise. And we love Dane Ortlund.

Dave: Oh, we love Dane Ortlund. He’s been on FamilyLife Today many times. He wrote a phenomenal book called Gentle and Lowly. We’ve interviewed him about that another book called Deeper, which is one of my favorite devotionals. Having he and Stacey on the boat was just awesome, when we saw him on the first day.

I tell you what, you're going to hear part of his message, and if you hear what he’s saying at the beginning and you wonder, “Why am I not on that boat?” You can be on it next year. Go to You can go right there and sign up.

Dane talked about what I believe is a theme of his—

Ann: —me, too.

Dave: —life and his preaching at Naperville church in the Chicago area and of his writing. It’s the whole idea of Gentle and Lowly. He goes to the passage in Ephesians where Paul talks about marriage, and he uses two words that Paul uses that are very similar to “gentle” and "lowly.” but now it’s applied to your marriage. You’re going to love this.


Dane: What an absolute joy and honor it has been for me and my bride, Stacey, to be with you this week. This has been an absolute blast. We had never been on any cruise of any kind before and have loved being with you.

David [Robbins], thank you. Tim Bell and the whole FamilyLife crew have been such gracious hosts. What fun! I am very, very happy to be with you tonight.

I want to talk to you tonight, with the time that I have, about Jesus. When I say that what I mean is the real Jesus Christ. Let’s begin with prayer.

Father in heaven, What a glorious evening we have already had. We're already going to float out of here. Now, as we stare at a couple of little, nuclear, Bible texts from Your actual Word, won’t you take it and plunge our hearts by your Holy Spirit, way down deep into these truths? The Bible is smarter than us, so let us see it and have the audacity to believe it. Like Job said, at the very end of the book of Job, “I had heard about You, now my eyes have seen You.” [Job 42: 5] Won’t You do that wondrous miracle that You love to do in the heart of each one here who needs to experience that? This we pray as we offer ourselves to you afresh. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

We’ve been talking about marriage all week long. Stacey and I have gotten help. I didn’t know we were going to get help this week; I thought we were just coming to talk. [Laughter] We have gotten help from you. Thank you! Dave and Ann up here, and other break-outs. Just excellent. Really good, wonderful stuff.

We’ve been talking about and thinking about marriage all week long and, friends, what we are going to do tonight is think together about the love of which every human romance is a whisper, an echo, a shadow.

The love that is yours to enjoy—now what I am about to say, you do not believe when you roll out of bed first thing. The love that is yours to enjoy apart from whatever ruin and wreckage you may be negotiating in your marriage right now. In other words, I want to talk to you about the Lord Jesus Christ.

Here’s the challenge that I’m facing—and just in case you haven’t gotten it yet, I’m going to speak plainly with you, alright?

The challenge that I face in this moment, that actually we’re all facing together, is that we tend to think we know what Jesus is like, who He is. But for many of us, actually, we are cold and flat in our Christian life, and we don’t know why. The reason may be—if you trace it down to the root, it may be—that the Jesus we think is there is a junior varsity, decaffeinated, bobblehead Jesus.

I graduated when I was thirty-one with my fourth degree in Bible and theology. Angry. In marriage counseling. Flat. And I had all my doctrine lined up. I don’t know if you know, they let a Presbyterian on the boat. [Laughter] I had all my theology lined up; but I didn’t know yet who Jesus was, what He’s really like, what His heart is. And maybe that’s true for you to some degree this week, as well.

Here’s the text I want to put as sort of the banner over our time together here tonight. This is the lit-up background over everything we’re going to say and think about tonight. It’s one little verse from John chapter 14.

Have you ever noticed in John 14, at the end of three years of ministry—it’s in the last days of His life—when Jesus comes up to Philip, Philip was putting some theology questions to Jesus. He says, “Hey, Philip, have I been with you so long, and you still don’t know me?” [John 14:9]

Three years—he [Philip] had seen Him raise the dead, feed the crowds (like Brian said in his prayer), multiply the bread and the fish, heal from a distance, walk on the water; [he] sat at His feet for three straight years. And he comes to the end, and Jesus looks him in the face and says, “You don’t know Me yet.”

Could it be—I’m asking directly but respectfully, might it be—that the Jesus that you’re bored with (if you are, and I won’t assume you are)—many of you in the room tonight are out ahead of me in being thrilled with the Lord Jesus Christ, and you need to help me. I’m just asking the question, and want to say, if you are, [could it be that] the Jesus that you are bored with, the Jesus you are yawning at, ain’t the real Jesus? That’s not Him.


Ann: We’re listening to Pastor Dane Ortlund and the talk that he gave on the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise just a few weeks ago. I don’t know about you—we’ve already heard this talkm but I still can’t wait to hear how he is going to finish this.

Dave: I remember sitting there when he said, “That’s not the real Jesus.”

Ann: Right?

Dave: The whole room got really quiet. As if they were thinking, “I think I have been sometimes following a misconstrued version,” and Dane takes the rest of the message and says, “Okay, let’s go to Scripture, and let’s find out who the real Jesus is,” and it’s not the Jesus a lot of us grew up believing in. It’s an accurate depiction of who He really is. And when you see Him as He really is, it’s inspiring.

Ann: Don’t you feel like most people don’t know, like you and I before we knew Jesus? We thought He was boring, He’s all about rules, He gets everybody in trouble and smites—smotes or smites everyone; smotes everyone. [Laughter] And, that’s not Jesus. That’s not the real Jesus.

Dave: And when you see who He really is, you are captivated. Let’s let Dane reveal to us who the real Jesus is.


Dane: So, what is the real Jesus like? What I want to do is pick up one passage that I am sure you have heard referenced at least one time throughout the course of our week together. It’s from Ephesians, Chapter 5, if you’d like to pull that up on your device to follow along. I’m going to look really closely at the language of the text, so I encourage you to look on, but if you just want to listen and soak, that’s great, too.

Ephesians 5—and what I’m going to do, if you want my plan tonight, is to take three simple steps. We’ll take the most time on the first one. Three simple steps.

First, I’m going to take a look at Ephesians 5:29—actually just two words in that one verse. Two words in Ephesians 5:29. I’ll reflect on that with you. This is new for me. Honestly, I’ve just discovered the wonder of this passage, so I’m fired up about it. Ephesians 5:29. Then I want to raise a possible objection that you may be having as you are listening, and briefly seek to field that and answer that.

And then, very briefly, thirdly and finally, I want to ask the question: “How do we then apply this to our lives and marriages?” All right?

  1. Ephesians 5:29
  2. An objection
  3. How do we apply it?

First, Ephesians 5:29. I’m going to begin at verse 28. Here’s what God says in His Word—I’m picking up in the middle of where Paul is talking to husbands: “ Husbands should love their wives as their own bodies.” Not husbands should use their wives for their own bodies.

“Husbands should love their wives as their own bodies,” why? “He who loves his wife loves himself.” The premise clearly being that you and your wife are one. You hate or love both together, both or neither. “He who loves his wife loves himself.” Verse 29: “For no one ever hated his flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of His body.”

I noticed that phrase for the first time in my life about a year ago, and I’ve been noodling on it ever since. I haven’t taught on it yet; this is the first time; but I have been thinking about this phrase, those two words, have you ever stopped to notice this, friends? “Nourishes and cherishes.”

“No one ever hated his own flesh.” He’s talking about husbands and wives. “But nourishes and cherishes his own flesh,” and now he’s going to go vertical again, “just as Christ does the church.” Wow.

All I want you to walk out of here tonight with is, the Lord Jesus Christ in heaven above in defiance of the way you think He is, reflexively and instinctively, cherishes you, nourishes you. Especially at your worst.

It is at—I can hear Barbara Parish, saintly old sister-in-Christ at my dad’s church in Nashville, saying, “The one thing I learned at this church is that it is at my point of deepest shame, regret, and anguish that Jesus loves me the most.”

Look there at verse 29 with me. “No one ever hated”—by the way, I’ve taught before in verse 25, “He loved and laid down His life for.” Christ did, for the church, and husbands should do the same. I’ve taught on that. He loved the church and laid down His life.

I’ve never looked really at this, verse 29: “No one ever hated his own flesh but nourishes and cherishes it just as Christ does the church.”

When you hear “the church,” don’t think “just as Christ does—Naperville Presbyterian Church,” the organization. He’s talking about you when it says, “the church.” If you are a Christian, if you are in Christ, He’s talking about you there.

If you slice your finger while you are working in the kitchen or the garage, how do you treat your body in light of that wounded, hurt, injured body part? That is how the Lord Jesus Christ treats you, not once you get your act together. That is how the Lord Jesus Christ—you are free to believe this—that’s how the Lord Jesus Christ treats you when you are screwing up, wandering and fickle. When you are suffering at the hands of others and when you are, yourself, sinning. You’re His body part.

When Saul was knocked off his horse in Acts, Chapter 9, have you ever noticed what the risen Lord Jesus says to him when He comes to him? He says, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting—?” He doesn’t say, “Why are you persecuting My people?” That would have been true. He says, “Saul, Saul—” (Saul is throwing Christians in prison)—

“why are you persecuting Me?” Because for you to touch Christians, is for you to touch, Jesus says, “My own body.” That’s how Jesus feels about you.

How do you treat a finger when you slice it? You don’t berate it. You tend it. You bandage it. You care for it. You’re ginger toward it. You’re tender with it. When you are hurting, individually or in your marriage, what are the verbs—if I were to ask you, to wake you in the middle of the night, and say, “How does Jesus treat you when you are doing badly?” Individually or in your marriage, what are the two words that you would attach to the way Jesus is toward you?

Are you not at least a little like me and assume at a gut level that the two verbs that He would come at you with are something like “grumbles and complains.” [Laughter] Taps His foot and crosses His arms, “When are you going to get it together, doofus?” Tolerates and checks His watch.

Some of you feel way down deeply that this is the way Jesus comes to you, because it was put into you by close family, parents or others, as you were growing up, that that’s how those above you come at you when you are screwing up. And you are spending a lifetime unlearning the assumption that the Lord Jesus Christ is a bigger, smilier, nicer version of your dad. And He’s not.

The correct answer for the question, “What are the two ways that Jesus comes to you when you are hurt, either because of your own stupidity or someone else's?” is nourishes and cherishes.

You say, “Dane, I think I can believe that, as far as ‘back then’ when I was an on fire, early, zealous Christian disciple. But I’ve piled up a lot of sins between then and now.”

Or maybe you're thinking, “Once I just get on the other side of this area in my life where I am most defeated, then I will be a recipient of Jesus nourishing and cherishing me.”

Don’t you believe that? I think that way. Here’s the problem.

Back in verse 25, what’s the difference? If you have the text open, what’s the key difference between verses 25 and 29, and the verbs Paul uses? They’re different verbs, but what’s the other difference? He loved me and died for me. He nourishes and cherishes. The difference is, back in verse 25, he’s talking about something Christ did in the past. When we come to verse 29, and he says, “He nourishes and cherishes,” he does not say, “He nourished and He cherished,” or “He will nourish and cherish you once you get your obedience meter a little higher.”

If you’re in Christ, you are one, however you are doing, whom the Lord Jesus Christ above nourishes and cherishes. Let’s just unpack each of those words really quickly here, nourishes and cherishes. By the way, as we look at these, there is nothing mushy about what we are talking about with the Lord Jesus Christ. I’ve only got one talk, so I’m cramming it in here and emphasizing what verse 29 gives us here.

This “verse 29” Christ is the Christ of, for example, Revelation 1, who, when He shows up and reveals Himself to the apostle John, and His hair is like wool, and His eyes are like blazing fire, and He has a double-edged sword coming out of His mouth, and He’s totally overwhelming. His voice is like thunder—many waters. John falls down in a comatose state, so overwhelmed was he at the mere sight of the risen, glorified Christ. That’s the Christ we’re talking about here, who nourishes and cherishes.

He nourishes—what does that mean? It means He’s one who loves to foster growth, tend to, help along, support, and feed. What a three or four course meal at the Black Crab [cruise ship dining room] does for your body, the Lord Jesus Christ does for you in your inner self—your heart, your soul.

The assumption there is, of course, that only someone there with need and weakness is going to need nourishing. Superman doesn’t need nourishing. Don’t think that you need to improve morally for Jesus to nourish you. It’s what He lives to do.


Ann: We’ve been listening to a message given by Pastor Dane Ortlund on our Love Like You Mean It marriage xruise just a few weeks ago.

Dave: Yes, and if you are wondering what in the world is the Black Crab, [Laughter] that the Black Crab nourishes you, that was the name of the restaurant on the boat, one of the restaurants—there are about ten of them. I’m telling you, you want to be a part of that boat next year.; sign up right now. You’ll hear speakers like Dane Ortlund.

He was so right. We unlearn what we’ve grown up thinking Jesus is like, and then, to feel His affections toward us, even when we’ve messed up—that was inspiring.

Ann: I’m still blown away by the thought that God, in Jesus, is so tender toward me at my worst. Isn’t that hard to believe?

Dave: Yes, and I’ll tell you what: I don’t know if anyone can communicate it the way Dane does. There’s just something about his excellence with the Scripture, and yet, his emotional heart that connects together to remind you: this is the Jesus we love, and this is how Jesus loves us.

Ann: I think it would be great, after this message today, to have an application. What do we do with this great information? Really, it’s the gospel that he presented. I think the best thing we can do is to run to God. Feel His tender care afresh. Maybe you don’t feel that; maybe you feel He’s judging you. I would say, start getting in the Word every day. Read the Psalms, read the Gospels; be reminded of how much Jesus loves you.

Dave: When you said, “Run to God,” I thought, “How do you run to God?” Another way to think about that is to confess. When you confess your sin and mistakes and shortcomings, you are telling Him the truth. I think we hide.

Ann: Yes, I do, too.

Dave: I think it’s because we’re afraid of what His judgment will be. When you understand what Dane was saying about His tender mercies and love for you, you’re going to understand [that] when you confess and be honest with yourself and with God, He’s going to meet you with tenderness.

Ann: Yes.

Dave: He’s going to meet you with tender love. The sin has been judged on the cross by Jesus. He paid for that sin. Why carry it around anymore? Why hide it? Bring it into the light, and then start fresh.

Ann: Maybe your prayer is something like, “God, I must not have a clear picture of You the way Dane is talking about, because I see you as being judgmental. I feel like You haven’t been there. I feel like I don’t see You in the light that Dane is talking about. Lord, teach me. Help me discover who You really are.”

Dave: We’re not done yet. There’s going to be more Dane Ortlund tomorrow. You’re going to hear a little bit more of this message. And I just want to say again: next year, you can be sitting in those seats with us. Just go to to sign up and you’ll be there with us.

Shelby: Amen. I’m Shelby Abbott, and you’ve been listening to Dave and Ann Wilson on FamilyLife Today.

You know, we talk about the fun perks of being on a week-long cruise with your spouse, and there certainly are plenty of those. But the real beauty of the Love Like You Mean It cruise is what the Lord does in the lives of married couples on the cruise who are looking to Jesus as the only source of hope. Christ is in the business of changing lives. He just is. He does that so powerfully on the cruise.

So, what if next year’s Valentine’s Day was characterized by your radical spiritual growth because you and your spouse took a week to sail on the Love Like You Mean cruise? It would be the best Valentine’s Day ever, because it would be just the beginning of a lifetime of walking with God alongside your husband or wife. So, I want to encourage you to sign up right now.

This is going to be the lowest price that will be available for this sailing. It goes from February 8-15, sailing out of Miami, Florida in the year 2025. We expect it to sell out again, so I want to encourage you to sign up. The link will be available in the show notes or you can go to and click on the “Love Like You Mean It” banner. Or you can give us a call to make your reservation at 800-358-6329. That’s 800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, you guessed it, “TODAY.”

For tomorrow, why does Dane Ortlund reject formulaic spirituality? Well, he’s going to emphasize the value of embracing faith experiences without over-analysis. That’s tomorrow, and he will join us then. I’m excited for that.

On behalf of my friends, Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Shelby Abbott. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

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