First Time We Saw Him, The: Awakening to the Wonder of Jesus - eBook  -     By: Matt Mikalatos
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First Time We Saw Him, The: Awakening to the Wonder of Jesus - eBook

Baker Books / 2014 / ePub

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Product Information

Format: DRM Protected ePub
Vendor: Baker Books
Publication Date: 2014
ISBN: 9781441246325
ISBN-13: 9781441246325

Publisher's Description

Scripture tells us that the words of Jesus made people uncomfortable, confused, angry, repentant, worshipful, and riotous. Today, we read the words of Christ in a steady, even tone and find ourselves wondering if maybe we're missing something. Could it be that we've lost the emotional power of Jesus's words simply because we're too familiar with them?

With incredible insight into the surprising and unsettling aspects of Jesus's parables and life, Matt Mikalatos reimagines familiar stories and parables in a modern-day setting, bringing alive for the contemporary reader all the controversy and conflict inherent in the originals. These emotional, sometimes humorous, and jaw-dropping retellings include the stories of the prodigal son, the good Samaritan, the lost coin, the feeding of the 5,000, the death and resurrection of Jesus, and more, asking provocative questions like What would be the modern equivalent of Jesus letting a "sinful woman" wash his feet? Who would be the hero of "The Good Samaritan"? How would Jesus tell the parable of the lost sheep in a city like Portland?

Author Bio

Matt Mikalatos is the author of My Imaginary Jesus and Night of the Living Dead Christian, and has been on staff with Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) for fifteen years. Matt has an active blog called The Burning Hearts Revolution, and can be found at Matt has a masters degree in biblical theology from Western Seminary. Matt and his family reside near Portland, Oregon.

Product Reviews

3.8 Stars Out Of 5
3.8 out of 5
4.3 out Of 5
(4.3 out of 5)
4.3 out Of 5
(4.3 out of 5)
Meets Expectations:
4.3 out Of 5
(4.3 out of 5)
of customers would recommend this product to a friend.
Displaying items 1-5 of 5
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  1. 3 Stars Out Of 5
    Helpful in brining Bible stories to life
    December 6, 2014
    Daniel Walsh
    John Stott argued that the task of preaching includes bridging the chasm between the Ancient Near Eastern world and our own. Many methods are employed to build that bridge. In The First Time We Saw Him: Awakening to the Wonder of Jesus, Matt Mikalatos, a long-time Cru leader, builds a bridge by recasting familiar parables in modern settings. The result is an enjoyable read that is useful for preachers seeking inspiration, small groups desiring a different type of book study, and students who will benefit from stories set in familiar settings.

    In What's So Amazing About Grace? Philip Yancey tells the story of the prodigal son from Luke 15 by recasting the prodigal as a teenage girl who leaves home in pursuit of a life of drugs, poverty, and eventual prostitution. The story brings me to tears every time, because it transforms an ancient story into a setting that clearly communicates the power of the parable.

    In similar fashion, Mikalatos takes a number of parables and familiar Bible stories and retells them in a series of overlapping narratives. The book's primary strength is how the characters weave into other narratives. Instead of a chapter-by-chapter collection of Yancey-like retelling, Mikalatos has characters appear again and again in the various stories he presents. It provides a comprehensive picture of a world in which the power of the Gospel shines forth in ways that effect not solitary characters, but a community of people.

    A second strength of the book is that the stories cover much of the breadth of the Gospels. Instead of picking only those stories which are easy to recast in modern settings, Mikalatos perseveres through the story of Jesus to present his life in many elements. Because of this, the reader watches the life of Jesus and those he impacts unfold in a narrative that follows the drama of the Gospels themselves. It provides a captivating picture of Christ and makes the pages easy to turn.

    The largest drawback to the work is when Mikalatos is forced to stretch his creative license too far, adding elements that may not be historically justifiable. This is not a problem unique to Mikalatos, but one of the central problems in bridging the ancient world and our own, so he is not to be faulted for it. However, at certain points in the stories, it felt to me like he stretched a bit in order to provide an overall narrative that was well tied together.

    Overall, I enjoyed this book and I recommend it. But with my recommendation I would encourage people to read it alongside the parables that he retells in order to understand what the Scripture is teaching us in them. Stories like these are immensely helpful in making difficult to understand, culturally-bound stories come to life. But, obviously, they cannot substitute for one's study of Scripture.

    Enjoy this book when you're seeking to build bridges in your preaching. Enjoy this book when you want to help students understand Bible stories in contemporary settings. Read this book with your small group to get a fresh grasp of the powerful reality of Jesus' grace and mercy.
  2. 2 Stars Out Of 5
    A Review
    October 26, 2014
    Burley Gwaltney
    Quality: 3
    Value: 3
    Meets Expectations: 3
    The theme of this book intrigued me initially. The aim of the author, Matt Mikalatos, was to bring a fresh perspective to the parables and life of Christ so that eyes that have been accustomed to reading the story of Christ might see it in a new light.

    Its true that the average modern reader will miss certain nuances in the Old and New Testament due to unfamiliarity with the cultural context, so it would reason that modernizing some of the story of Christ and his parables could be a good thing. However, I have a number of concerns that grew as I read the book.

    My main concern is that anytime a message is altered to ease understanding we have to recognize that the alterations may have wider effects than we intend. For example: there have been attempts to explain the trinity, but by attempting to present the Godhead in a more understandable form were likely to unintentionally promote heresy, e.g. If we say the trinity is like water (it can be solid, liquid, and gas) then we are, perhaps unintentionally, espousing Modalism. When I picked up the book I was assuming that Mikalatos was taking some of the parables of Christ and modernizing them, however the book is quite a bit more than that.

    The First Time We Saw Him is not just a modernizing of the parables of Christ, but a modernizing of highlighted portions of Christs story. It beings with his conception and ends with him being resurrected. Its more of a selective paraphrase of scripture akin to the Cotton Patch version, or The Word on the Street. Now paraphrases can have the benefit of jump-starting our consideration of a passage from a new angle we had not seen before, but often it also trivializes the person, and character of God. The story is fundamentally changed by trying to make it more accessible to a wider audience.

    For instance, in the second chapter there is a correlation drawn between the Pharisees of Christs day, and modern church goers who are too caught up in externals. Mikalatos tells us that Christ wasnt too caught up in the external appearances like the Pharisees, or the modern church goers: Christhad all sorts of friends who wouldnt be welcome in church. He would hang out with them at bars, and go to their parties, and it didnt make people happy with him. Im somewhat at a loss for the original story that Mikalatos is modernizing here. I cant think of any instances in the life of Christ that would have direct correlations with him attending a modern party, or a bar. Scripture tells us Christ ate with Publicans and sinners, but thats a far cry from the modernization being offered. In fact, when most modern readers consider Jesus going to bars and attending parties, they are going to be imagining something quiet a bit different from anything recorded for us in scripture.

    I would argue a much better method, but more difficult, is putting some serious study into the life of Christ, an understanding of his parables, and the culture at the time. We cant just transpose meaning out of one cultural setting into another and expect to have one to one comparisons for everything. Something will always get lost, or added. Read with caution, like you should everything.

    I received this book for free from Baker Books in exchange for my reviewing it, and I was not required to write a positive review.
  3. Age: 35-44
    Gender: female
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    All the Bible Stories you know but like you never expected to hear them.
    September 5, 2014
    Age: 35-44
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    This book took me completely by surprise! I actually had not expected to review it but due to a happy accident, I got the chance and I am thrilled to say that it is a wonderful book that everyone should read!

    Matt Mikalatos asks us to take a step back and look at our faith from a different perspective to look at God from a new perspective.

    How many of us have a skewed view of God? How many of us feel detached from God because we just dont feel a connection with him?

    Matt points out that those of us who grew up in church, mostly learned the same lessons, heard the same Bible stories, memorized the same Bible verses and that has shaped our faith.

    In many cases, like his own, this gives a somewhat flat and skewed view of Jesus and his amazing miracles, God and his love for us and the Spirit He sent us to be a constant companion.

    In The First Time We Saw Him, Matt shows us the Bible stories we all know and love but with a very unique spin. Why didnt someone think of this before?

    This book has had an impact on me that I have never experienced from any other book (except the actual Bible of course) Ive read on the subject!


    Will you read it? Will it change your outlook on life? Maybe

    Will it give you a renewed faith and help you to develop a relationship with God? I truly hope so!
  4. Fredericksburg, VA
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    A Gripping Retelling
    August 28, 2014
    Fredericksburg, VA
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    Gospel stories retold for today, a tag line that certainly grabbed my attention. One, because I am a fan of Francine Rivers and Liz Curtis Higgs, who have retold Bible stories with great skill. I knew this book could be great or truly terrible. Especially if the Gospel got lost in the modern retelling. However, to my surprise, this book is quite amazing.

    I am the prime example of the person who grew up in church and vacation Bible school, in the cinder block basement rooms of Baptist Churches. I dare say there is a Bible story I havent heard at least 100 times. Author Mike Mikalatos managed to retell the Gospel story in such a way that it challenged and unsettled my heart. The First Time We Saw Him, left me hungry and desperate to go back and read these astonishing accounts in scripture with new eyes. More importantly, after reading the first few chapters, I leaped into action to help a neighbor I had been avoiding helping for several years. I knowa shameful admission, but its true. Mikalatos retelling of the Good Samaritan was eye-opening to my own failings to reach out to those who might slow me down during my too busy for interruptions, day.

    I highly recommend this book to anyone. It is well worth the few hours it took me to consume it. Read this book! I was given a complimentary copy of this book by BakerBooks in exchange for an honest review. I have not been compensated and all opinions are my own.
  5. Warren, Maine
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Who Is This Man?
    August 25, 2014
    Michele Morin
    Warren, Maine
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Matt Mikalatos, author of The First Time We Saw Him (TFTWSH), was clearly raised as a church brat. This is an affectionate term in my home, since my husband and I are in the process of raising four of them, the eldest of whom has gone out and married a female of the species. It is our earnest hope and expectation that they, in turn, will raise another generation of church brats. Having said that, I will confess that I have puzzled over, read books, led meetings, engaged in intense conversations, and initiated activities in my church to address and, hopefully, to combat the myriad challenges posed by our beloved church brats.

    Mikalatos frames the problem masterfully: The point is not to breathe new life into the Scriptures. Its to remind [them] that theyre already alive. As a staff member with CRU (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) for fifteen years, the author brings to the table his experiences of cross-cultural ministry, his theological education, and his evident desire to know Jesus and to make Him known. Hes on to something . . .

    It is not merely that TFTWSH translates the most familiar Gospel stories into 21st century contexts and infuses them with present day props, although this is fascinating. For instance, Mikalatos puts a cell phone in everyones pocket, casts the prodigal son as a star-struck runaway, and suggests that Jesus (Joshua) might have multiplied hot dogs and rolls from the pitchers mound in a minor league baseball stadium if the incarnation had landed Him in modern-day Merica. Teenage Mary, thrown across her pink bedspread working on rough drafts for the Magnificat with a purple pen; and Mary Magdalene, appearing as cash-strapped-college-student-turned-exotic-dancer certainly do their intended attention-grabbing job, but, remember: church brats have seen all this before. They know all about creative methodology. Thanks to the 21st century attempts of all those flannelgraph companies trying to re-tool for the IPod generation, theyve probably even been challenged in Sunday School to re-write a Bible lesson in a present-day setting. They just would not have done it nearly as well as Mr. Mikalatos.

    What blows the dust off the flannelgraph in TFTWSH is the authors willingness to go there. Ever since the Apostle John was penning letters from Ephesus, believers have been trying to take the skin off Jesus. Like the New Testament Gnostics, we turn away from the humanity of Jesus, sanitizing our soteriology, taking the meat out of the incarnation. Do we convey to learners and feel in our own hearts the utter horror Jesus felt as He anticipated being beaten and brutally killed? Are we willing to admit that the Good Samaritan is not only a story about racism and cultural boundaries, but also one with serious gospel implications? After all, the split between the Samaritans and the Jews started with religion. If the hero is cast as a Muslim, we are forced to ask ourselves: Can it be that a Muslim, with his incorrect theology and his corrupted religious practices, could be held up as an example, as a part of the answer? Could [Jesus] be saying that a man like that is somehow closer to eternal life than a respected pastor or a sharp seminary student?

    If we are to function as witnesses (clearly our job title, if we take seriously the words of The Great Thing Entrusted to Us), it is our job to answer the question: Who is this man? TFTWSH puts that question to God Himself by thoughtfully examining the gospel accounts of Jesus life and death, and challenges the reader to let that question pierce his own heart to awaken to the wonder of Jesus.

    Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255
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