Yesterday we began a short Sunday series inspired by William Willimon’s Why Jesus? This book will challenge you; amidst the delightful turns of phrase and humour, Willimon enables the reader to see the Jesus of the gospels – the Jesus revealed to the first disciples.
In lots of ways, we seek to make Jesus ‘safe’ – but He won’t be tamed, contained or constrained by us. He cannot be reduced to a set of doctrinal propositions. As Ben Witherington states, “Jesus is enigmatic as well as charismatic.” You can read Witherington’s excellent review of Why Jesus? here, here, here, here, here, and finally here.
Here are a selection of highlights from the opening chapters by Willimon:
- “in reading this book, you are taking the risk of getting discombobulated , commandeered, and befriended by the most interesting person in the world” (xiii)
- “…in Jesus Christ, God slipped in among us…All the Gospels present Jesus on a continual road trip – God in motion, urgently making a way to us in defeat of the desert in which we wander” (1)
- “It’s emblematic of Jesus. Despite his disciples’ betrayal, on the first day of his resurrected life, there’s Jesus with nothing more pressing to do than immediately return to the ragtag group of Galilean losers who had failed him.” (4)
- “Jesus tends to come to people where they are but rarely leaves them as they were” (9)
- “Jesus brings peace, but his peace often brings disruption and despair before it is sensed as peace” (13)
- “The ange’s song is not only a birth announcement; it’s a war chant, a proclamation announcing a change of government. There is a new king in town…” (14)
- “At the heart of the universe is not dog-eat-dog, survival-of-the-fittest struggle and war. At the heart of it all is a God who is peaceful, loving, long-suffering, forgiving, and gracious. Jesus looks like God. God looks like Jesus” (19)
- “Parables take you deeper. They are a complex, deep way of thinking about the world. It is possible to think too quickly or superficially that you know Jesus. Then, you can pigeonhole Jesus and forget about him, thinking about Jesus in about the same way you think about everything else” (29)
- “Jesus is God with us, not God controlled, explained, and tamed by us. Jesus not only spoke in parables; Jesus is a parable” (30)
Why Jesus? is a great read – profoundly challenging and wonderfully encouraging. But better than this book, get to know the Jesus of the gospels, journey through life with Him – it is an exciting and stimulating ride, regardless of the specific circumstances of your life.