Jesus is WHAT?!?: a book review

Today after work I collected my things to leave and a co-worker spotted the book I’ve been reading.  Across the cover the words embossed are “Jesus Is _____.” My coworker pointed to my book and asked me how I would finish that sentence. I said, “Oh this is a book by this pastor in Seattle and each section finishes the sentence a different way.  He says ‘Jesus is your friend;’ ‘Jesus is Grace;’ Jesus is the point;’ Jesus is Happy–I haven’t read that section yet but I already hate it; ‘Jesus is here; and ‘Jesus is Alive.’

My coworker persisted, “Interesting, even knowing that context, how would you finish that sentence. If you had one word to say who Jesus is, what would it be.

I punted. “Well Jesus didn’t give one word, once he gave three: ‘I am the way the truth and the life. No one gets to the Father except through me.'” Other times he said he was the good shepherd, the gate, the vine the branches, the bread of life. It turns out Jesus is quite a lot of things. I didn’t answer her question directly because I believe that one of the biggest problems with our ‘one word answers’ is that we end up reducing who Jesus is.

Jesus is______.: Find A New Way to Be Human by Judah Smith

Thankfully Judah Smith does a good job at talking about who Jesus is and what makes him so special. This is an accessible and engaging look at what Jesus does for us.  Now this is not a book that delves particularly deeply into the gospel accounts. It does a little, but the focus of Smith’s chapters is what Jesus is for you and what life is like for those who follow after him. Jesus is.: Find A New Way to be Human is an examination of who Jesus is and what that means for us. Smith explores scriptures relevant to his theme but don’t expect heavy biblical engagement here.

What you get instead is a rather evocative look at who Jesus is:

  • Jesus is your friend— all of us our bad. We sin and fall short but the love of Jesus extends to each and every one of us.
  • Jesus is Grace– We don’t just keep on sinning because the Grace of God guarantees we’ll be forgiven in the end. Rather we see Grace relationally.  Grace isn’t just what God doesGrace is who He is. Jesus reveals to us the character, grace and goodness of God.
  • Jesus is the point–at the end of the day there is one answer to the meaning of life and its purpose, why we are here and how we understand God: Jesus.
  • Jesus is Happy–the promise of the gospel is that it is good news! Those who are in Christ will experience happiness, joy and peace. Jesus is the source of these things (BTW I didn’t really hate this section).
  • Jesus is Here–No matter how difficult your circumstances or what you are going through, you can be confident that Jesus is here and is close to you in your time of need.
  • Jesus is Alive–Jesus is alive and the life of the world. Those who follow him will discover a new way to be human. They will discover life itself.

Judah Smith wrote this book with the hope of drawing people more into the life of Jesus. I really appreciated Smith’s enthusiasm and message and think he is a great communicator. I think this book will be especially good for youth and young adults. However, in places I wish it were a little meatier. Smith does a good job of introducing people to Jesus, but more could be said about who Jesus was, what Jesus did, what Jesus does and what Jesus will do. I give this book ★★★☆☆.

Thank you to Thomas Nelson for providing me a copy of this book through their Booksneeze blog review program. I was asked for my honest review.