A couple of weeks ago, I was impressed by Mark Driscoll's Confessions of a Reformission Rev & his obvious love for Jesus. I have been looking for good books on Jesus (to supplement the gospels) and have found a very good one in Surprised by Jesus. This book surveys Jesus' life and teaching from a perspective of what is really in the gospels, not just our sentiment of Jesus.
Tim Stafford writes for Christianity Today and also has a great book on raising a family called Never Mind the Joneses. In this book he delves into the person and teaching of Jesus and discovers not only unusual but "surprising" things about Jesus which we have either glanced over or dismiss in our readings as a church.
Mr. Stafford writes, "the 'everybody knows' version of Jesus too easily carries an individualistic, consumer-oriented appeal. In the extreme, we preach a a gospel that is all about me - my personal growth, my spiritual experiences with Jesus as my best friend." I must admit, this has sadly been my own experience.
Mr. Stafford brings in Jesus' Jewishness and meanings which his listeners would have gathered from his teaching as well as implications of Jewishness for Jesus. For instance, why did Jesus get baptized? He had no sin to symbolically wash away. Even John says that he should be the one being baptized by Jesus. Mr. Stafford looks at why Jesus would have done this as well as the importance for him to do so.
Another chapter looks at the warnings which Jesus gives (the "woe to you"'s). Something I had never noticed before, which Mr. Stafford points out, is that Jesus saves his warnings for groups of people already in "the family of believers", not the lost. But in those warnings, he doesn't use names, or point specific people out, he lumps them together. Mr. Stafford sees this as an example set, and one to be done with caution (since none of us have the vision of Jesus).
This was a very eye-opening book about Jesus & I very much enjoyed reading it. Look in the next few weeks for an interview I will be doing with Mr. Stafford about this book.