6 Best Books About Jesus Update 05/2022

A new adult education class at our church is getting started this week with a class I put together about Jesus. I’ll be there to help with the class, which I put together myself. What a great book, Who Is That Man? by John Ortberg. We took the title from it, and we’ve got both of our PCUSA pastors and a PCA pastor in the area talking about this topic for a short time. There are a lot of great books about Jesus, and I’ve been reading and rereading the gospels a lot less than I should. I’ve also been reminded that there are a lot of great books about Jesus. In the past, we’ve told people that small groups, Sunday school classes, and retreats should study Jesus. I’m sure there are more than 300 books about Jesus that we can choose from at our library.

I have to say, though, that I’m a little surprised by how few books about the Bible and about Jesus we sell. This list might help you and your family come up with a way to fix this. People usually want to grow in their faith and become more like Jesus, so I think that’s what you want. I bet you have problems in your life that would be better if you turned your attention to Jesus and tried to fix them. A book or two might help us better understand the gospels and think about what it would mean if we were apprentices like Jesus today.

The Jesus Journey: Shattering the Stained Glass Superhero and Discovering the Humanity of God: A 40-Day Encounter Trent Sheppard (Nelson)

This is the book I’ve recommended for our class members to read with them as they read the gospels this year. On many levels, it’s a great book to read. It’s written very well and has a lot of interesting things to talk about. The author is a theologian who reads books like N.T. Wright’s and a pastor who cares about how people learn how to live. During the Council of Chalcedon, jolly old Saint Nicholas punched a guy. He says that “the Santa I never knew” refers to the Phil Yancey book that he reads. This person is completely orthodox. He thinks we should care about the divinity and humanity of Christ, even if we don’t want to fight about it. This book is a look at Jesus’ life and times with an eye to how he was like us. You can find a lot of good books about this these days, like The Jesus We Missed. This has 40 short readings. You can start with “Jesus Had an Aunt,” move on to “But Was He Funny,” and finish with “In the Beginning.” Sheppard will draw your attention to each piece, give you insight into it, and help you change.

At the end of each reading, Sheppard asks us to “Ponder, Pray, and Practice.” This is a three-step process. Not just any old summaries: These are wise, poignant, and useful for your journey. It will help you learn more about the Jesus story, and it will make you care about other people. I think this book will help you have a better relationship with God. It’s a very interesting read. Sheppard helps to run an urban house church called Ekklesia, and he also runs Alpha’s work with college students in the New England area. He has read a lot, picks the best things, and is very good at telling stories. Most important, he helps us “encounter Jesus as if for the first time by experiencing his breathing, heart-beating, body-and-blood, crying-and-laughing humanity,” as the back cover says, which is what he does.

Who Is This Man? The Unpredictable Impact of the Inescapable Jesus John Ortberg (Zondervan)

In class this week, I showed a short clip from the Ortberg DVD curriculum by this same name that I used to teach the class (that we also carry and it is very cook, very engaging.) A lot of people think that Jesus, who had almost no followers when he died, was the most important person in the history of the world. In the first chapter of the book, Ortberg talks about how this happened. Not only did he start a group of people who became followers, but they also changed the world. Jesus’ teachings can be linked to everything from the way European culture treated children to new ideas in medicine, from literacy and higher education to the rise of democracy, in a way that’s often very simple and easy to follow. During his time in Palestine, who was this first century Jew from a rural area who did not try to name any towns after himself and didn’t start any political parties? He didn’t seem to be very organized (and in any event, left his followers in disarray after his execution.) “Well, you didn’t see that coming, did you?”

John Ortberg is a great preacher, storyteller, communicator, and writer. He is also very clear and interesting to read. This book is very well-researched, and I’m sure you’ll learn something new from it, even if you don’t believe in Jesus. If you’re giving this book to someone who doesn’t like how people think about Jesus, this might be a good choice. When Ortberg talks about how the man from Galilee has had an impact on people for two thousand years, he also wants to know how these people risked their lives for the teachings of this man. So, the book ends with a dramatic look at the Easter stories and how they can be true. How interesting! Definitely worth it.

The Jesus I Never Knew Philip Yancey (Zondervan)

A favorite Philip Yancey book is hard to choose. If you’re well-educated, we always recommend him to you. He is eloquent but not overly literary, he is very well-read and draws on just the right mix of interesting sources, and he tells stories about his own evangelical background and how he went from fundamentalism to grace and how he learned to deal with pain and suffering. Yet, he always comes through with humanity and care, and he always has his strong Christian faith. His book, “What’s So Amazing About Grace,” or his other books about suffering (like “Disappointment with God” or “The Question That Won’t Go Away”) are all great. There’s no doubt this is one of the best books of the last 50 years. I’m not the only one who thinks this. Ethicists who speak well and are filled with the word of God are the ones who are the best. In the last years of his life, Lewis Smedes said this was probably the best book about Jesus ever written. It’s interesting how early on in this very interesting book, Yancey talks about how people in different cultures have different ideas about Jesus and how different movies have shown us different things about him. The Marxist filmmaker Pasolini’s film The Gospel According to Matthew moved me deeply when I saw it with my youth group in the early 1970s, just like he did. There’s a reason this book has sold more than a million copies. It’s amazing, interesting, and maybe even a little scary. What a great book!

“Christ is the only one like him.” John Stott: I’m sorry, but I can’t (IVP) $20.00 I have said that this is my favorite book on the person and work of Christ. They did a lot of research and found out a lot of interesting things about it. Allow me to quickly explain what Stott is doing here. These are the important Langham Lectures that were turned into the book, and you will see how important they are. This is how it works: There are a lot of stories and illustrations in there that could be used by anyone who preaches, and I think anyone who teaches or preaches could benefit from having them. A great book! It’s so well-thought-out, mature, smart, and inspirational!

The Incomparable Christ John Stott (IVP) 

They look at “The Original Jesus,” which is how the New Testament tells us about what Jesus did and said in the Gospels and other New Testament books. If you care about the Bible, this is a great thing to read. It’s also very smart. The second part of the book is called “The Ecclesiastical Jesus,” and it shows how the church has talked about Jesus in the past. It shows how the church has thought about Jesus, how the cross has played a role in his work, and how different people have thought about it. Even though this is more religious in nature, it looks at some representative figures and talks about why their ideas were either helpful or not so helpful in their time and ours. When he talks about Christ, he talks about people like Justin Martyr and Saint Benedict. Anselm and Bernard of Clairvoux are also talked about. There are also some interesting thinkers, like Thomas Jefferson, and modern thought leaders like Gustavo Gutierrez, N.T. Wright, and people in the church who have been involved in missions for a long time. The third section is very interesting because Stott talks about what he calls “The Influential Jesus.” It’s here that he shows how people from St. Francis to Tolstoy have been inspired by him. Gandhi, Roland Allen, Roland Allen, and Father Damien all took ideas from him. A lot of sermon examples or teaching examples will be talked about. Different from Ortberg’s Who Is This Man?, this book focuses on these people who were either Christians or not, but whose lives were shaped by the person of Jesus.

The fourth part of this great book is called “The Eternal Jesus,” and Stott talks about it under that title. Here, he asks us to think about how we are always being challenged by him. He shows us ten visions of Christ from the Book of Revelation. Stott’s balanced, impeccable hands make this material come alive and make this work even better. To be honest, I thought this part might not be as interesting as I thought it would be. As the publisher said, The Incomparable Christ “offers a richer picture of Jesus that can’t be measured.” Several of my favorite people know “Uncle John” Stott well and say that he was the most important Christian leader in their lives. He died in 2011. You should read his book.

What Every Christian Needs to Know About the Jewishness of Jesus: A New Way of Seeing the Most Influential Rabbi in History Rabbi Evan Moffic (Abingdon) 

How Jewish clergy have thought about Jesus has been a fascinating topic of study for a long time. After the Holocaust, people were more aware of anti-Semitism, which made the question more interesting. It was in the middle of the 20th century that people from mainline denominations and Roman Catholics started talking again and with more energy. The conversation has been going on for a long time, but some evangelicals have also joined in. It has been going on for a long time for reasons of justice and also for reasons that are more religious. Is that so? One of the specific questions is how we should at least think of our Lord and Savior as a Jew. What does it mean to look at Jesus’ life and work through the lens of his Judaism? Why has it been so often missed? It is good to have a modern Rabbi teach us this, and this book was a lot of fun to read. If you go to church, you’ll see Rabbi Moffic often. He is very well-known and wants people of all faiths to learn more about the Hebrew Bible’s secrets. A senior rabbi in suburban Chicago and the author of a book called “What Every Christian Needs to Know about Passover” is him.

This is how Scot McKnight started his review of Rabbi Moffic’s book: He said that we need to listen well when we’re talking to each other, especially when we’re talking about Jesus. People who are Christians won’t agree with everything Moffic says, but they will say that he has been paying attention to them. For that alone, I’m grateful for this book.
“Thank you so much.” Isn’t that a good sign? Why not put it in your church library, or give one to your own public library, as a gift?

Simply Jesus: A New Vision of Who He Was, What He Did, and Why He Matters N.T. Wright (HarperOne) 

This medium-sized, sturdy hardback is a great way to get to know what Wright thinks about Jesus. I think it’s worth getting. I think you’ve heard about the project that Wright has been working on for a long time. It’s called “Christian Origins and the Question of God.” It takes a long time to read the first three volumes. They each have hundreds of pages. All of them are about Jesus. Volume 4 on Paul is two volumes, with 800 or so pages each. Our church has these three big books: The New Testament and People of God, Jesus, and Victory over Evil. We have them, too. These books are now being written about in a lot of different ways. There’s even a new one about a sub-theme of Wright’s, which is about how first century Jews and Jesus thought about the exile era, and whether it was still going on for them and how important it was to Jesus’ own mission. This is a big new book that will be talked about a lot by New Testament scholars, early Judaism scholars, and theologians, and with Wright replying to their ideas. It’s called Exile: A Conversation with N.T. Wright, edited by James J. Scott (IVP Academic; $40.00). It was written by Wright and Scott. It is great! In this lesson, we’ll look again at who Jesus was and what he stands for. There is an academic at IVP called N.T. Wright. This paperback, The Challenge of Jesus: Rediscovering Who Jesus Is, is a good summary of the first three volumes of that hefty “Christian Origins” series that I talked about above. It’s also a good book. It came out in the late 1990s, when the third big one was coming out. It was given as a lecture to explain his big project. It was written by Wright for the paperback edition a few years ago. It’s a great tool.

People know that Rev. Dr. Wright has written a lot about the Christ. But in “Simply Jesus,” he tries to sum up his main point for people who are new to the subject and want to learn more. In this book, he calls the “perfect storm” of ancient Israel under the heel of Roman rule and Jesus showing up with his own unique identity and calling. Jesus is the one who will free God’s people from exile, restore the Kingdom in a way that they didn’t understand, and put the world back together, as he puts it, through his death and resurrection. As a hardcover book, this one isn’t simple enough for me. I read it again last week to make sure I should put it on this list. And, yes, I was in love with it. Following Jesus: Biblical Reflections on Discipleship and How God Became King, which are both collections of sermons, were better, more concise, and more interesting, especially for people who don’t know a lot about Jesus’ history. If you are a fan of Wright, this book is a must-read. If you want to learn more about Jesus but don’t want to spend a lot of time reading, this is the book for you.

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