No matter how you slice it, it’s pretty hard to get away from the simple fact that Jesus lies at the center of the Christian faith. The entire Old Testament points to him, all of the gospels tell the story of him, and the rest of the New Testament is the story of his followers trying to figure out what it meant to follow him and lead others to do the same. For the Christian, Jesus isn’t just the central figure of our faith, he is the central figure of our lives.
When I find myself in a season where I can feel that I need to be grown or stretched, or when I find myself in a particularly dry season, I always journey back to taking another look at Jesus. After all, he promised that was the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). But one of the difficult things is that for all of us, I think Jesus becomes a little too familiar. Not in the sense of we’re too friendly, but in the sense that we’re so used to hearing stuff he said, did, and taught that it becomes normal to us. We lose sight of how revolutionary and different all of that really was.
Enter the book The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey. In my opinion, Yancey is the best writer on the topic of the Christian faith since C.S. Lewis. He’s honest. He’s real. Yet he’s also very smart. Very thought provoking. I like that. In this book, Yancey shares his reflections on the person of Jesus after reading the gospels but also watching practically every movie, reading every book, and interviewing many people on the subject of Jesus. He walks away with a different perspective, and honestly, one I think is so much healthier than the one that I hold about Jesus today.
For me, this book is helping me to look at Jesus with “fresh eyes.” Last week I finished reading the chapter that talked about the Beatitudes and it really helped me to look at them through a new perspective. At least for the moment, they were no longer these happy, trite, familiar sayings, but teaching of Jesus that was surprising. Shocking. You could even say they had some “teeth” to them. And while that is a little scary, it’s also refreshing. Humbling. Helpful in seeing Jesus through who he truly was.
Without realizing it, I think I’d developed this arrogant attitude of “I’ve got Jesus figured out.” But of course, the moment we think something like that, we don’t realize how far off we really are. For me, The Jesus I Never Knew has been very reshaping, reforming, and reinvigorating in the way I look at who Jesus really is as the center of my faith and my life.
Pick up a copy and check it out. Nothing can cultivate a greater personal relationship with Jesus than a new (hopefully more accurate) vision of him.