As it turns out, even first-century believers who lived and traveled with Jesus on dusty Palestinian roads needed a nudge sometimes to help them recognize his presence and his work.

The Gift of Discovering Jesus in Unexpected Places

Lately, I’ve been on a God Hunt, and this list is the early fruit of it:

  1.  Our house and yard were teeming with friends, gathered for a celebration, and fully present to joy. The smooth execution of this event was an obvious answer to prayer.
  2. God has provided abundant and satisfying work for our adult sons, evidence of his care for our family.
  3. While teaching my four-year-old Sunday school class, the melody that goes with a particular memory verse came to mind on the fly, and I was grateful for God’s help to do his work in the world.

At Dee Brestin’s invitation, I’m paying attention to obvious answers to prayer, God’s unexpected care, and his help to do His work. This awareness is just one of the great gifts I’m savoring from The Jesus Who Surprises.  Paying attention to God at work, recording and retelling the stories of his provision and rescue, opens our eyes to his presence in all of life.

As it turns out, even first-century believers who lived and traveled with Jesus on dusty Palestinian roads needed a nudge sometimes to help them recognize his presence and his work. Just as his companions on the Emmaus Road required supernatural insight to recognize Jesus at their kitchen table, we also sometimes fail to discover and behold Jesus–particularly where he appears in unexpected places in the pages of Scripture. Brestin’s gift to her readers is a gentle revelation that reads like a visit over steaming mugs.

Jesus in the Pentateuch

In the opening scene of the Bible, the curtain lifts on creation, and Jesus is there. Although he is not mentioned by name, plural pronouns attest to the loving fellowship of the Trinity–“the Word speaking the world into creation.” (23) Every sacrificial lamb points to Jesus, the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world. Brestin skillfully corrects the common misunderstanding that Old Testament believers were primarily law abiders and that salvation by grace is a strictly New Testament concept.

“It is as if time does not exist for God–it has always been faith in this Lamb that saves us.” (87)

Jesus in the Psalms

Understanding Scripture’s big-picture story arc of a promised Redeemer makes sense of David’s faith-filled pronouncements in song, for even though David’s body did indeed “see corruption,” his reign pointed toward Christ’s perfect and unshakable reign. For example, Psalm 45 is a love letter and an example of the great love of Christ the Bridegroom, and references to Christ in the psalms come in the form of veiled promises of help and rescue in the midst of our own stories and his comforting presence through every variation in our emotional temperature.

Jesus in the Prophets

God’s fore-tellers and forth-tellers never fail to give us the bad news as well as the good news of the gospel, revealing how desperately we needed a Redeemer and then putting on display the outrageously lavish grace of God’s provision. Their pens dripped with warning, but comfort comes to those who read between the lines and find hope, particularly in the last prophecy in which John reminds readers of  Jesus’s assurance that the best is yet to come and our days of being homesick on this planet will come to a triumphal ending.

Thorough and insightful Bible study questions follow each chapter and anecdotes from Brestin’s own life illustrate the significant theological truths she shares with a skill born of deep personal study and a rich background of teaching and mentoring.  The Jesus Who Surprises becomes, after all, a surprise of its own with its faithful gospel insights that bring my own need into clear focus, reassuring me that Jesus is sufficient for that need and for everything else that shows up along the road we travel together.

Many thanks to Waterbrook Multnomah for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which, of course, is offered freely and with honesty.

Surprised and blessed in abundance,

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees. If you should decide to purchase The Jesus Who Surprises: Opening Our Eyes to His Presence in All of Life and Scripture,simply click on the title within the text, and you’ll be taken directly to Amazon. If you decide to buy, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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72 thoughts on “The Gift of Discovering Jesus in Unexpected Places”

  1. I’ve been trying to pay attention to where Jesus shows up in my daily life, Michele, so this blog is timely for me. I awoke in the night with the words from “King of My Heart” running through my mind: ‘You are good, good, oh; you are good, good, oh’ followed by ‘You’re never gonna let, never gonna let me down.’ What a message from God about God! Have a terrific week.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the ways you describe this book. (Like this: “Brestin’s gift to her readers is a gentle revelation that reads like a visit over steaming mugs.”)

    And the idea that God surprises us is so true! I want to be on the lookout for His good surprises!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I need to change the email address where I receive these posts.  I went to the “manage subscription” tab but only saw an option to cancel/unfollow:(  Can you please help me with this?? Thanks!! Jennifer

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We’re often so quick to wave our wish lists at the Lord … yet so much slower at being grateful for every good thing He is doing.

    A timely reminder. Michele. For His mercies are new every single morning. Great is His faithfulness.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Gratitude towards the Lord is a wonderful attitude to cultivate and yet, we (or maybe it’s just I) need to be reminded of it often. Thank you for this good reminder, Michele.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s so easy to overlook that Christ was there all along in the Old Testament days, just like He is ever-present today, Michele. I think I’d really enjoy reading Dee’s thoughts on the subject, but always love your way of communicating as well! Beautifully written, my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The knowledge that so many of the images in the OT point toward a much larger story helps me to understand some of the more puzzling parts of the Bible.
      Thanks for reading, Beth.


  7. You know how Hagar called God “The God Who Sees?” I’m very glad He is also the “God Who Surprises!” I, too, am learning to watch for his gifts that come in a wide variety of ways. Dee’s book sounds like an eye-opening read–another one for the wish list! Thank you, Michele!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Jesus surprised me by giving me the talent of writing late in my life. When I was in college I met Maya Angelou at a meet ‘n greet. My professor took me to it. It’s amazing where Jesus shows up and where. I have even led some to Jesus through a Christian party in college. I’m a Christian myself too.
    My name is Crystal and I come to you through Esme Salon. So glad I visited this site. Great post and site.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Yes! We may not read of God’s grace in the Old Testament, still the foreshadowing of grace is there just as much as the foreshadowing of Jesus is there. I especially see this when reading David’s Psalms, I have often wondered if David understood what he was saying. He say redemption in ways that were not understood through the law. It is such a beautiful find when a new one pops up at me. Thanks for another awesome review Michele, adding yet another book to my wish list. Many Thanks 8)

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I think He often surprises us, but we can (as you note) miss it sometimes. Perhaps we miss His delight in surprising us because our perception of Him is not aligning with the real picture. It also can be easy to forget that He often works in small ways and not always the flashy big dramatic moment of a movie scene. Someone I once know calls His little surprises “God winks.”

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Michele,
    I’ve been making my way through the Old Testament again and yes, it is ripe with warning, but it also foreshadows the wonderful redemption to come. Isn’t it just like Jesus to surprise us in the big things – the whole story of salvation – and in the little mundane moments of life. I find that God never disappoints when I hunt for Him.
    Bev xx

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I love the title of this book. This summer I did some study in the prophets and was almost surprised to see how clearly Jesus is presented there. I love your practice of looking for evidence of Jesus around you, like in the examples you give in your first paragraphs. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I love the idea of going on a God hunt. Having a stroke this summer and then finding out my spine is basically a wreck and dealing with chronic pain has had me hunting for God in everything and He has been found! I see Him in all of it, using it for His Glory! I need this book! Thank you so much and thank you for linking up @worthbeyondrubies

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Lately I’ve been exploring His Sermon on the Mount, and am surprised every time I notice something new. It’s easy to think we already know everything about Him, but we can find so much more if we just open our eyes and hearts and dig a little deeper , which we don’t always feel like doing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A few years ago, I set myself the goal of memorizing the Sermon on the Mount. It’s been a while since I reviewed the whole thing, but that intensive focus really drove the truth deep.


  15. I love Dee Brestin – is this new? Thanks for your great review, as always, Michele. My daughter’s pastor calls these surprised, “Post-it’s from God!” As if he’s reminding us: “Hey there, I’m here and I’m doing a great thing bec I love you!” AMen and amen. I always wondered why they didn’t know it was Jesus on that long road. What a wonder!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And isn’t it amazing that they recognized him around the table as he broke the bread.
      Funny how he shows up around food and tables in such an unmistakable way.
      I’m sure he reads your blog.


  16. My personal belief is that God is everywhere so we need to appreciate the people and things around us and be grateful. Thanks for linking up with #globalblogging

    Liked by 1 person

  17. This sounds like a great book! It is amazing how many clues there are in the Old Testament that point to Jesus. It really helps to understand these, and the more I look the more I am still discovering more! I also love looking for glimpses of where he is and what he is doing in our everyday lives – I think there are more of these than we sometimes realise!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I’ve been through traumatic times only to realize later on down the road that Jesus was there all along. We don’t always realize it at the moment, but God reveals these things when our hearts are ready. I love seeing Him at work!


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