Sometimes those of us who grew up in Christian homes heard the stories about Jesus so many times that the Gospel writers seemed to take on the tone of the adults in "Peanuts". And now some of us tend to silently respond with:
"Water into wine?_yeah, yeah_I've heard that before (yawn)".
For anyone who would like to experience Jesus in a more three-dimensional way, in a way that seems to let you step into the story, a way that lets you walk around the characters and observe them from different angles, I highly recommend Luke: The Gospel of Amazement by Michael Card.
This gifted musician and lyricist tries to teach us to read the Gospels with what he calls "biblical imagination". He starts with helping us understand Luke. What kind of man was he? What was his social background? What might have been important influences in his life and thinking? Some of these questions can be answered with fact, some with well thought out and scholarly hypotheses. I was pleasantly surprised to discover how knowing something of the author really did help bring often read words to life.
He goes on to deal with the Gospel chapter by chapter, breaking each into smaller bits, and then shares historical, societal, and religious information from the time period to give a framework for the happenings in the life of the Messiah that helps the stories spring three dimensionally into the mental equivalent of a child's pop-up book.
Of course, not all of his suppositions are equally new or earth-shattering, and he never tries to present his own speculation as fact, but he does teach us that being "in the Word" means so much more than reading our chapter a day. It's work, and digging, a becoming familiar with the whole to help understand the individual passage.
This book was a real blessing that helped transform my thinking about the reality of the person of Jesus, and helped me know Him, and want to know Him, better.
The next in the series, Mark : The Gospel of Passion, comes out next year. I can't wait. J