A debut book advocates refocusing on Jesus through biblically informed insights.
Smith focuses on John 11:1-12 and John 13 in order to most concisely present his ideas. This selection includes the raising from the dead of Lazarus, the backlash of Jewish leaders, and the anointing of Jesus in Bethany. Smith utilizes these stories to point out that Jesus often surprises people by defying their preconceived notions of God’s motives and actions. His thesis points to the possibility that Christians sometimes limit their understanding of God through these very same preconceptions. “What if the true God of the Bible,” he asks, “is the God we don’t believe in? What if the God of the Bible is much better?” He begins by noting that people often impose their own moral feelings on their understanding of God, which causes them to misunderstand him. “If we were God,” for instance, “we would never let someone have cancer. We would never let a child die.” The stories in the Gospel of John lead people to ponder a savior who does things they would never have expected. For instance, when Jesus is asked to come and heal his good friend Lazarus, he deliberately waits until the man has died. Later, despite being all-knowing and omnipotent, Jesus cries when he witnesses the grief of his friends. And though he is a man of ultimate peace, he knowingly sows discord and in fact acts in ways that will eventually bring about his own arrest and execution. Through Smith’s work, the reader sees a savior who waits to act, puts doubts into the minds of his followers, and causes division among people. Smith’s difficult role is to explain why, despite these realities, the believers of Jesus have reason to follow and to have faith in him. The author does so with plain prose and real-life, daily examples. Readers can expect to find a thoroughly traditional view of Jesus in a work meant to act, above all, as a self-help book for finding deeper faith.
A lucid and approachable guide to re-evaluating conventional ideas about Jesus.