The Unexpected Way of Jesus

Imagine: you have been waiting a long time for a surprise.

You know that it is coming, but not what, exactly, it will be. But you have a lot of time to think about it, so you have started to imagine just what it will be. A expensive gift, a lavish vacation, or even a promotion at work. Or maybe just a really great party, thrown in your honor.

But when the day of the surprise comes, it is not any of those things. It is not at all what you expected. Instead of being something special lavished upon you, the surprise is that you are being invited to help give a really great party in honor of a whole bunch of other people: people you don’t know well, or even like much. People who don’t seem deserving at all.

In Luke 4, Jesus shows that he is a prophet by reading from the book of Isaiah, and announcing its fulfillment. The part he reads does, in fact, announce good news, but it is emphatically NOT the good news that his hearers were expecting.

They wanted to hear that Jesus was about to trash their enemies.

Instead, Jesus says that God has sent him to:

“proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners

   and recovery of sight for the blind,

to set the oppressed free,

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

The people listening to Jesus thought they were the ones who were oppressed and who needed to be set free from the Romans who ruled over them.

But Jesus was telling them something different: something that they really didn’t expect.

He was saying that God’s good news was for everyone—not just them in particular.

For everyone.

Even people they didn’t particularly like. Even people whose religions and cultures seemed strange, wrong, or even bad. People who were poor and people who they generally thought were beneath them.

Don’t you realize? Jesus asks. This has always been the way of God’s prophets–to help the forgotten ones, to give gifts and comfort to the unlikely.

And, worst of all, Jesus seemed to be asking them to help–to share what they had with people they weren’t quite sure were deserving of help at all!

The way of Jesus is so different from what we expect.

{I’m delighted and happy to show you the cover of the third book in the Telling God’s Story series–authored by me! It’s called The Unexpected Way. You can read more about the series here. The above is NOT an excerpt, but simply an illustration of why the book is titled as it is.}

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My Next Book: God’s Upside-Down Kingdom

I’m excited to be able to tell you about the writing project that’s kept me busy since I finished Eat with Joya book about Jesus for children with the working title God’s Upside-Down Kingdom.

Equally appropriate for church-based Christian education, homeschooling, or Christian school, God’s Upside-Down Kingdom is the third volume of the Telling God’s Story series, published by Olive Branch Books,the religious education division of Peace Hill Press (who publish the fabulous Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer, author of The Well-Trained Mind).

Scholar (and blogger) Peter Enns wrote the introductory text and the first two volumes of the series, which I’ve been using with my children at home. I’m honored and grateful to be participating in this project. Not only it is a blessing to be a part of a project aimed to introduce young children to Jesus, but the time I spent studying the Gospels as I wrote helped me to understand Jesus–and the upside-down ways of God’s Kingdom–in new ways.

If you’re in the market for some quality curricula for Christian education that’s “free from narrow sectarian and political agendas,” I encourage you to check out the Telling God’s Story series!

Do YOU Know the Name of Alexander the Great’s Horse?

I don’t either.

But my six year old son does, and it’s not because I’ve drilled him on it or anything.

It’s because of Susan Wise Bauer’s The Story of The World audiobooks.

We’re very relaxed homeschoolers, which mostly means that my kids have a lot of time to play Legos. But ever since Aidan was 4 and listened to E.B. White read Charlotte’s Web, he’s been hooked on audiobooks. Now Graeme is 4 and is conversant with all kinds of books that are not age-appropriate. They listen and build; build and listen. It works for us.

Anyway, I’m not holding us up as an example or anything (who KNOWS what my kids will say about their early education in years to come!) but I do want to suggest that you check out this series (Peace Hill Press website is here). Jim Weiss’ voice is reason enough to listen.

(And then, if anyone asks, you can tell them that Alexander’s horse was named Bucephalus.)