In The Jesus You Can’t Ignore John MacArthur presents a Jesus we don’t often hear preached in church or taught in seminary. Focusing on the gospel accounts of Jesus’ interactions with the Jewish leaders, primarily the Pharisees, MacArthur shows that Jesus wasn’t always so “meek and mild,” as the classic hymn goes.
MacArthur presents a good summary of first century Judaism and explains the various issues that come up between the Pharisees and Jesus. His superb exposition of Scripture shows through as each chapter seems more like a mini-commentary on various passages from the gospels. I think my favorite chapter was A Midnight Interview, in which MacArthur unpacks the John 3 passage where Jesus speaks with Nicodemus and confronts him with the truth of his spiritual condition. Though I am quite familiar with the passage, as are most Christians, I still found the chapter enjoyable and I learned a couple new things looking at it from the standpoint of Nicodemus and the really hard and powerful statements Jesus was making.
MacArthur’s exposition also includes passages relating to the Sabbath, the Sermon on the Mount (another goodie), and the unpardonable sin. Again, much of it is familiar to the average Christian, but MacArthur can pull out insights I hadn’t considered before, particularly since there is such an emphasis on the Pharisees and how these passages reflect on them.
This book has much going for it.
· First, MacArthur is a well-known and trusted preacher who has proven again and again that he can handle the Word of Truth.
· Second, it deals with the gospels from a different perspective, keeping them fresh and helping us to not gloss over them due to a vein of familiarity that takes the wonder and surprise about reading them.
· Third, the Church, at least in America, is facing constant pressures to change or to downplay the truth for the sake of tolerance. I’m talking about churches ordaining homosexuals, inviting other religious leaders to preach from their pulpits, and our ambivalence towards easy divorce and licentiousness. We need a renewed willingness to defend the gospel and our beliefs.
When I first started reading the introduction, I was afraid the book would point people towards the kind of arrogance and belligerence like the people holding signs saying, “God hates [fill in the blank]” and screaming at people from the steps of city hall. Fortunately, I was mistaken. As I mentioned before, the majority of the book feels like a Bible commentary, and after reading the conclusion, any residual doubts about the direction this book was pointing people were cleared away. MacArthur calls on the Church to take a stand on doctrinal issues and to not allow heretics and unbelievers to attempt to move the Church away from her foundation, which is Christ and His apostles (Eph. 2:2).
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”