Lately, I’ve been on a God Hunt, and this list is the early fruit of it:
- 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.
- God has provided abundant and satisfying work for our adult sons, evidence of his care for our family.
- 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,
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