Review: The Jesus we missed
The Jesus we missed
The surprising truth about the humanity of Christ (Kindle edition)
by Patrick Henry Reardon
I’m ashamed to say that I started this a while ago, and then managed to forget about it (I’m not sure how!), but I read through it over the last few days, and I’m glad I did.
Reardon sets out to explore the humanity of Jesus, suggesting that we have tended to minimise or at least, overlook what this means, in the desire to emphasise his deity. Reardon’s exploration sits firmly within the view of orthodox creeds and confessions, and this is certainly not about seeing Jesus as only a man, but rather, to recognise that while he is fully God, he is also fully man. To quote from Russell Moore’s preface:
We define humanity in light of our brother, in light of the alpha and omega point of humanity – Jesus of Nazareth.
This book will drive you to the Jesus you might have forgotten or might never have seen. It will also propel you with longing – for the day spike-scabbed hands wipe away your tears as you hear a northern Galilean accent introduce himself as your Lord, as your King, but also your brother.
I have to admit that Moore is correct, in that Reardon brought out a number of things which I really hadn’t thought about. Primary in this was the idea that Jesus’ incarnation involved some of the ‘limiting conditions of time and space and organic particularity‘. That is, the ’emptying’ (kenosis) of Philipians 2:7 involved Jesus experience life in the flesh, including all those human things such as growing, learning and development.
An adequate Christology, then, should affirm that the Word’s becoming flesh refers to more than the single instant of his becoming present in the Virgin’s womb. He continued becoming flesh and dwelling among us, in the sense that his assumed body and soul developed and grew through the complex experiences of a particular human life, including the transition from preconscious to conscious.
Reardon explores this particularly through the lens of Jesus’ relationships, looking at things such as how Jesus learned and grew into and ‘took possession of’ his identity through the study of the Scriptures which teach about him.
‘He did read books and he learned from them….. when Luke also tells us, “Jesus increased in wisdom an stature,” it is wrong to imagine his growth was unrelated to what he read – any more than his increase in stature was unrelated to what he ate (Luke 2:52).
Implicit in this ‘increase’ is the idea that Jesus’ incarnation included the limit of ignorance, that is, the human mind of Jesus didn’t have access to the divine omniscience, a point he stresses is the traditional position of the creeds, and is demonstrated in his ignorance of the end-of-the-world schedule (Matthew 24:36). Reardon points to the occasions where Jesus asks questions, such as the Gadarene demon’s name, or where Lazarus was buried; redundant questions if he already knew. On the other hand, Reardon examines how Jesus also has prophetic insight (‘extraordinary spiritual perception’ via the Holy Spirit), in discerning the thoughts of his accusers, and indeed, knowing that Lazarus was dead, without being told.
The traditional Christology of the Christian church holds that in Jesus there was only one person, a single center of subjectivity. That is to say, Jesus did not sometimes think as human and sometimes as divine. Everything he knew, he knew through human experience, no matter how refined, elevated, and unique. All his “thinking” took place in a human brain at the service of a human intellect because Jesus was (and is) God’s Son enfleshed in a human condition.
I admit that I find this challenging, and it’s a compliment to Reardon that his writing has made me want to delve into this more deeply.
There is plenty of things in this book which I could write about; explorations of what it meant for Jesus to ‘taste’ death, what it meant for him to pray and much more than I have the space here to cover. One other insightful and helpful aspect of the book was the way Reardon compared and contrasted the way the different gospel writers wrote about the various events, and how they, and the manner of reporting fitted with the overarching literary themes and devices they employed. Similarly, he would often show how Jesus was fulfilling the Old Testament scriptures and the pre-figuring types.
the crown of Jesus was woven from the elements of Adam’s curse
I found this a really enjoyable, challenging book, which opened up a whole range of things for me, and ultimately presents a refreshing look at what the Bible has to say about who Jesus is.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review.