From the editorial: “What if some contemporary Christians are getting Jesus all wrong? That’s the question at the center of Pastor Dharius Daniels’ new book titled, “RePresent Jesus” — a text that promises to paint a picture of Christ that “people will want to follow.”
Daniels continues, “No matter what stage you are in your spiritual journey [I hope that] this book (the book he’s recently written) represents Jesus to you on some level – That it paints a more accurate picture of the Jesus of the Bible, because that’s the Jesus we’re supposed to represent.”
My friends – no “book” is going to give you a more accurate picture of Jesus Christ than the Book: your Bible. Always remember – it doesn’t matter whether biblical commentary is written in a more scholarly manner, or, as with Daniels, in a contemporary book: “commentary” on any level is simply a person’s opinion – just as my own commentary here in this post is simply my opinion.
Daniels states, “I believe [a] disconnect exists, because in many Christian circles the emphasis is so much on [Christ’s] death — which is important — but I think equal attention is not given to his life,” Daniels said. “So we really don’t know what he was like.”
The Value of Biblical Commentary: I believe in the use of good, solid, balanced commentary. My own library is filled with commentaries and books offering further insight into theology. And, honestly (having not read Daniels’ book), RePresent Jesus may well be extremely solid and helpful. Case in point: Daniels is spot-on in his observation that many believers have an inaccurate portrait of Jesus. This is due, in my opinion, to the fact that Biblical Illiteracy is at such alarming levels in the home of the average Christian i.e. we don’t know what our Bible says because we simply don’t read it, leaving what we learn to the neighborhood preacher and/or author – which is dangerous since preachers and authors are fallible. All of that said, always try and remember the following principles:
1) Biblical Christianity doesn’t – or, at least, shouldn’t – focus on Jesus’ death; we focus on His resurrection, which is the epicenter of Christianity. The resurrection isn’t merely “important.” If there is no resurrection, there is no Christianity, which is why Paul wrote, “If Christ has not been raised from the dead, your faith is futile…” (1 Cor. 15:17) Any local church that regularly celebrates Christ’s resurrection will, by nature, focus on the life leading up to said resurrection as well. At least, they should. If they’re not – find another church. Certainly, the heinous manner in which Jesus died represents the ugliness of the sin He bore. But, our focus and reason for living and assembling each Sunday is His resurrection.
2) The Bible is God’s written revelation to mankind (that’s you and me.:)) God could’ve chosen to include so much more. The disciple John includes this intriguing passage at the close of his gospel: “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these (specific words, events and stories) are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (20:30-31) In short, God included all that was necessary to give us an “accurate” portrait of His Son.
3) I did want to make one observation based on one of Daniels’ quotes. Daniels states that his book “promises to paint a picture of Christ that “people will want to follow.” That’s great. But that’s not the Jesus of the Bible. Again, from John’s gospel: “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed Him.” (6:66) Keep in mind, the hatred and vitriol for Jesus rose to a climax that resulted in His execution. Simply put, not everyone will want to follow Jesus – no matter how pretty a portrait we attempt to humanly paint of Him.
4) We get our “portrait” of Christ not only from the New Testament, but from the Old Testament, as well. The early church fathers taught, “Christ is in the Old Testament concealed, and in the New Testament revealed.” In other words, Jesus is “present” on every page of Scripture. To the religious leaders of His day, Jesus said of the Old Testament scriptures, “You search the [Old Testament] Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the [Old Testament] Scriptures point to me!” (John 5:39)
5) Lastly, always keep the following in mind when someone comes out with a book/blog/article/statement, etc. that espouses a “new” insight that has never been before considered. (C.S. Lewis famously described this tendency as “chronological snobbery.”) It doesn’t necessarily mean the new axiom is wrong, but that we should consider it in light of two millennia of responsible scholarship.
My purpose here is to remind the Body that our primary source for developing an “accurate portrait” of Christ is the Bible. Ask God to help you develop that “portrait.” He will. He loves you. :))
Further study: the best, most balanced book/commentary written on the topic of “who Jesus was as a human being living on planet earth,” is Philip Yancey’s award-winning, “The Jesus I Never Knew.”
Soli Deo Gloria, nw