Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Book Review: Simply Jesus, A New Vision of Who He Was, What He Did, and Why He Matters

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

N.T. Wright writes for both the scholars and general readers. I have his now published four books out of the planned six in his Christian Origins and the Question of God series, which I found quite tough to read. This book, Simply Jesus, is I suppose, a summarised version of those books.

The book dwells on who Jesus was, what he did and why he matters. I like it when he gave a good portion of the book to stress the importance of understanding how different first century Jews thought and lived in comparison to our time, in the way they interpreted space and time and worldview. We need to know that in order to better understand Scripture and who Jesus is and how he is being viewed at that time, which would have influenced how he was treated and how he presented himself to mankind.

But what I gained most in reading Simply Jesus is a fuller and deeper understanding of the realization of the kingdom of God right here, right now. The kingdom of God is already established here on earth, right from the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.

The kingdom of God is real. It is not to be taken with a "spiritual" understanding, i.e. from a "meaning" perspective. It is present now and we as believers as real citizens of this kingdom.

But I still have lots to think about it to further instill it in my mind and to learn to live a kingdom-of-God living.

(Anyway, I don't think I did any good in this review here. The book is much better than how I am able to explain it.)


Post-script (17/3/2015): My sister-in-law asked me this question out of the blue today, "What is the kingdom of God?" Seriously, how many (non-)coincidences am I experiencing lately? I told her that is exactly what I have been reading and learning so much from NT Wright and the fact that I have not seen the kingdom of God this way before.

She was confused between the kingdom of God and the Gospel if Christ. The kingdom of God was mainly what Jesus spoke about in the Gospels, but after Jesus's ascension, the disciples and Paul spoke and preached the Gospel of Christ. She felt Jesus' and the disciples' messages were two different messages.

I assured that it is not so, that they are the same message. It is in fact when Jesus came down to earth, the kingdom of God has arrived, and Jesus is the king. The kingdom of God is the kingdom of the whole world, it is here but not yet.

Right now, our world is still prevalent with multiple kingdoms, both material and immaterial, with multiple kings. But in spite of that, with the birth of Jesus, the kingdom of God has arrived.

For us to be citizens of this kingdom, the only way is King Jesus and the only way is his sacrifice, his death. We can only enter into this new world through God's appointed way, the death and resurrection of His Son.

Isn't that an amazing way to look at the kingdom of God of whom we are all citizens, we who receive the Lord Jesus as the king of our lives and we who strive to live by the precepts of this kingdom, who deny ourselves and take up the cross and follow him, who grows in the fruit of the Spirit with character that this kingdom requires its citizens?

I am so amazed with this fresh understanding of the kingdom of God and I'm in it! And only because of the grace of God.

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