Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Jesus I Never Knew - Book Review

This is a book I got about 12 years ago. I've read it before, but something kept pulling at me to read it again. I'm so glad I did. I saw the book from such a different angle this time.  

The author straight out tells you in the beginning, this book focuses on Jesus' humanity.  And that he does. He goes into great detail by digging into who Jesus was, a Jew. Yancey gives such insight into what it was like to grow up Jewish as Jesus did. He gave such revelation on the Jewish roots that you have to say Ah-ha when you start to understand who exactly the 12 disciples were, with their Jewish heritage.  

The central theme of the book is the life Jesus lived during his 3 years of ministry, which encompassed his greatest sermon: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, those that mourn, the meek,..." Jesus truly lived out his sermon on earth. He shows how Jesus spent his life with the outcasts, the poor, the broken, and how they were drawn to him.  The people who felt most condemned by the church of their day were flocking to Jesus and hanging onto his every word. Jesus offered hope, not condemnation, something the human spirit longs for. 

Yancey spent a lot of time contrasting the difference in the way the rich and the poor approached Jesus. The sermon and Jesus' messages tended to be too offensive to the rich, yet a comfort to the poor. He has no boundaries in his writings, some of the things he says are not meant to tickle readers ears. He lays out the truth set before us in Jesus, which can cause us in our comfort zone of a wealthy westernized society to squirm. Jesus brought us the great reversal. The world views success by strength, good looks, connections, and a competitive instinct, but these very things can block you from seeing this kingdom of God that Jesus speaks of. 

Jesus was always pointing out that the poor in spirit, the mourning, the persecuted, the hungry and the ones who thirst after righteousness have a peculiar advantage. The rich do not know they are in urgent need of redemption for the rich rest their security in their wealth, their things. But maybe, just maybe, the desperate person will cry out to God and if so, that person is truly blessed.

Some of my favorite quotes from the book:

"Where is God when it hurts?" I have often asked. The answer is another question, "Where is the church when it hurts?"

"I now have a built in suspicion against all attempts to categorize Jesus, to box him in. Jesus is radically unlike anyone else who has ever lived."

"Although faith may produce miracles, miracles do not necessarily produce faith."

"the paired theives (being crucified on each side of Jesus) present the choice that all history has had to decide about the cross. Do we look at Jesus' powerlessness as an example of God's impotence or as proof of God's love?"


I could write a novel about this book! Well, there is so much great info, I highly recommend reading it. Yancey also gives his insight into the death, Resurrection and Ascension in his unique perspective. I didn't remember the book detailing all of this, but it just happens to be the  perfect read to meditate on with our upcoming celebration of the Lord's Resurrection.  
I'm sure you could probably find a copy of this book in your library, since it's been around for a while. I would love to hear others' views and comments on the book.


Michelle said...

Great review, I can tell your excited about this book. I'll have to look it up at the library when I'm there next :)

Katie said...

I agree- great review! This book is now on my list to read. I've found that I really enjoy reading and learning things about the humanity of Jesus. And rightfully so I guess because that is how God means for us to connect with Him. I recently read "The Big Fisherman" by Lloyd C Douglas- a story about Peter, but so much more than that. It opened my eyes to much of what you are saying about Jesus ministry and how he looked past the faults and sins to the heart and the hurts of people.

I love how the Spirit draws out new things from old books. Such a testimony that He is at work in our lives!