I finished this book a few days ago but haven't had the chance to blog about it... So here goes! =)
This was a GREAT book, there were so many parts that really stuck out to me, lots of different quotes!
The first is about circumstances around Jesus' conception. Yancey writes, "The God who roared, who could order armies and empires about like pawns on a chessboard, this God emerged in Palestine as a baby who could not speak or eat solid food or control his own bladder, who depended on a teenager for shelter, food, and love."
I don't know if that scares you as much as it scares me. Imagine: Mary would've been just a young teenager when she conceived by the Holy Spirit. Could you picture this in our day in age? I know that teenage pregnancies are super high, and a lot of these babies end up with FASD, or are born with addictions, if they're even carried to term at all. Many of them are given up at birth, sent away to be adopted.
That's not to say that all teenage pregnancies end up bad. I know quite a few people who were teenage parents and they made things work well.
I don't know about you, but my teenage years were pretty rough... I couldn't imagine being prenant on top of all that, never mind being pregnant with the Messiah!
Moving on, cuz there's lots...
"Jesus' audacious claims about himself pose what may be the central problem of all history, the dividing point between Christianity and other religions. Although Muslims and, increasingly, Jews respect Jesus as a great teacher and prophet, no Muslim can imagine Mohammed claiming to be Allah any more than a Jew can imagine Moses claiming to be Yahweh. Likewise, Hindus believe in many incarnations but not one Incarnation, while Buddhists have no categories in which to conceive of a sovereign God becoming a human being. Jesus' entire life stands or falls on his claim to be God. I cannot trust his promised forgiveness unless he has the authority to back up suc an offer. I cannot trust his words about the other side ("I go to prepare a place for you...") unless I believe what he said about having come from the Father and returning to the Father. Most important, unless he was in some way God, I must view the cross as an act of divine cruelty rather than sacrificial love."
Comparing Christianity with other religions. No other religion has had its deity be born as a man, never mind that deity accepting death then being resurrected to save his people. That is the uniqueness of Christianity.
Side note: Yancey talks about how there are many different movies about Jesus' life, but they all tend to portray Jesus as a Mr. Rogers type character - "sweet and inoffensive." But he talkas about a BBC production called "Son of Man," where the Roman soldiers act more realistically: "Roman soldiers have just invaded a Galilean village to exact vengeance for some trespass against the empire. They have strung up Jewish men of fighting age, shoved their hysterical wives to the ground, even speared babies. Into that tumultuous scene of blood and tears strides Jesus with eyes ablaze." I want to see this movie.
Yancey also talk about the famous painting "Head of Christ" by Warner Sallman. Yeah, you know the one I'm talking about:
This picture is everywhere, apparently printed more than 500 million times according to the publishers! I love what Jason Boyett has to say about it: "Unfortunately, the image is probably wrong. I'm not a trained anthropologist, but Sallman's Jesus - with his shiny brushed hair, neatly trimmed beard, limpid upturned eyes, plucked eyebrows, delicate nose and fine anglo cheekbones - doesn't strike me as very authentic. Jewish carpenters just weren't that pretty. Don't let the manly beard fool you: Sallman turned Jesus into a woman." He goes on to list some good and bad points: "Good: there is great value in servanthood and humility, and it's appropriate to associate those divine qualities with Jesus. Bad: proper hair care is not a divine quality. And good luck getting this meet and mild parsy to whip moneychangers out of the temple or to endure the blood and guts of the cross."
Yancey writes about how Jesus still called us to perfecction: "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." But nobody - not even Mother Teresa, as Yancey points out - has ever completely fulfilled those commands. "We will never measure up."
But here's the cool part: Jesus forgave many people during his ministry: an adulterous woman, a thief on the cross, Peter who had denied him three times, Saul who became Paul, and list could go on. "There is only one way for any of us to resolve the tension between the high ideals of the gospel and the grim reality of ourselves: to accept that we will never measure up, but that we do not have to" (emphasis mine).
Walter Wink talks about the "turn the other cheek" verses. "Jesus is not just suggesting that we masochistically let people step all over us. Instead, Jesus is pointing us toward something that imaginatively disarms others." Think about it: if someone hit you, your reaction would either be to run away, or to fight back. Jesus is giving us a third option: if you stand there and look the person in the eye rather than cower or fight back, that person will find it harder and harder to hurt you. Jesus is telling us to "talk with them and woo them into our movement by our love."
Yancey paraphrases Jesus: "Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat; I am. Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?"
So... I'm losing focus, so I will write out the rest of the quotes that impacted me
"Jesus' healings are not supernatural miracles in a natural world. They are the only truly 'natural' things in a world that is unnatural, demonized and wounded."
"Do you want to get well?" "What if 'getting well' spiritually meant a painful amputation of a beloved habit, the denial of a personal passion, or the death of a dream? Would you still want to be well? When the patient is our souls and not our bodies, everything changes. The issue is no longer 'Can Jesus heal?' but 'Do I want to get well?'" -Rick James
"I was absolutely thunderstruck by the extraordinary reality of the man I found in the Gospels. I discovered a man who was almost continually frustrated. His frustration leaps out of virtually every page: 'What do I have to say to you? How many times do I have to say it? What do I have to do to get through to you?' I also discovered a man who was frequently sad and sometimes depressed, frequently anxious and scared...A man who was terribly, terribly lonely, yet often desperately wanted to be alone. I discovered a man so incredibly real that no one could have made Him up."
I want to get the book "The Jesus I Never Knew," which is where these excerpts are taken from. I would really like to read the whole book. Perhaps that will be my next book purchase... =)