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Nice new way of looking at scripture
on June 25, 2016
I recently read an autobiography by John Cleese of the Monty Python fame. In that book, Cleese included several “hilarious” (his words) skits that he had performed with other comedy troupes before his Monty Python days. As I read through the skits, I really didn’t think they were that funny. I may have chuckled or snickered a bit, but that was it. I came away feeling a bit disappointed because, you would think if John Cleese thought they were hysterical, I would at least be able to feel somewhat satisfied in the humor department. Well, then, I SAW some of the skits actually being performed on YouTube, and yes, they were quite funny. My point being, if you only read a skit, without actually seeing it, you miss out on too much. The body language, the voice inflection, and the timing are all missing when all you have are the printed words.
I mention this because this is the big hindrance when one reads the Bible, especially when Jesus is speaking. If one doesn’t really think too much about what is going on beyond the actual words, you can miss quite a lot. This is what John Eldredge communicates in this offering. To fully appreciate who Jesus was and what he came to do, we have to understand so many more things than what is on the printed page. It doesn’t help that when most of us hear these stories in church, the pastor (or whomever) tends to read through the passages as a fifth grader would read Shakespeare. How can we possibly fall in love with the son of God when an orator doesn’t bother to inject any feeling into the words?
So Eldredge takes us through many of the interactions of the recorded Jesus and tries to do just that – inject feelings into the words. We explore many of the events that happened to Jesus, pick apart the scenery, study the other people in the room, and when done carefully, we get a better picture of who the man really was. This is not an easy thing to do. We must remember that Jesus was fully man AND fully God. He’d have to go through all of the trials, tribulations, heartaches, disappointments and anger that a human goes through, yet remain perfectly holy. For the most part Eldredge succeeds. The author is very honest as well admitting that at times he (or anyone) can’t know completely the issues within Jesus ministry, and sometimes even his best stab at what Jesus was really saying and feeling comes across as being a bit obtuse.
Example: We read several times when Jesus heals people and then tells them to go back to the town and “not tell anyone what has happened”. Why does Jesus do this? The author speculates that if Jesus actually commanded people to do this, our human nature would, in fact, make us do the opposite. As I read that I thought “um….. no.” I always believed that the reason Jesus told people not to tell people of many of his miracles was because he wanted to have a true, deep relationship with people, and not be looked at as a magic genie that would automatically grant people their wish. So depending on how versed you are in the gospels, you may come across several instances of issues such as this.
Still though, Eldredge succeeds in making one stop and think. To view Jesus as fully man and fully God, we must look beyond what appears to be a bland, boring emotionless being. We also can’t do the opposite which is to view a “white” Jesus glowing on a religious postcard with rays of majestic light beaming from his body. This books shows us the REAL Jesus, and for a man to be real, we must see everything, even if “everything” isn’t what we’re accustomed to seeing and hearing about from our Sunday school lessons. I remember one of the Hollywood blockbusters that dealt with the life of Christ (King of Kings?) where the movie producers insisted that the actor who played Jesus have his armpits shaved for the crucifixion scene. They were worried that harry armpits might offend some viewers.
Sadly, a little more than halfway through the book, the author seems to have run out of examples and strays from his original line of thought. It seems the last half of the book focuses on simply being one of the many devotionals out there. Not that a devotional is a bad thing, but I found the transition a bit jarring. In fact, when I finished the book, it seemed to be better suited for reading a few minutes each morning with a highlighting pen as opposed to a book that you would want to settle in for an hour at a time. Still, though, the author makes a lot of good points, has a very laidback style, and does a very good job of introducing the real Son of God to many who only know a one dimensional Jesus.