Philip Yancey’s Book, The Jesus I Never Knew deals with the author’s desire and attempt to reveal and investigate what kind of a person Jesus was. Some of his findings were revealing and even startling dwelling through different levels of traditions, interpretations, and stereotypes that hid the very personality of the Man in the Gospel, Jesus Christ.
The book was critically divided and discussed into three major sections: Who he was, Why He Came, and Why He Left Behind.
The first part, who was He, described the different misleading description and portrayals of Jesus: some conceived him as a magician, a political revolutionary, a Jewish Cynic, a cult leader, etc. On the author’s perspective during his early childhood, he thought of Jesus as a soft and gentle person with no sharp edges on his personality moreover like a lamb- carrying shepherd. When he studied in a Bible College, there was a different interpretation of Jesus regarded as cosmic Jesus.
By this time, the Author’s desire to research who was Jesus took him to a journey through the Bible’s four Gospels and to re-discover Him.
On his book, the author made critical emphasis on the following events on the Bible and reflected his views, thoughts and opinion: for instance, the event Jesus was tempted by Satan in the desert opting Him to succumb in unleashing His power to establish the Kingdom of God. The Author sees Jesus as a charismatic person, an excitable one who expressed sympathy for those suffering, displayed anger at cold- hearted legalists, not afraid to show emotions, vulnerable and not ashamed to cry.
On the event of Beatitude wherein Jesus made a Sermon on the Mount, the author sees this as a direct opposition to worldly possession of material prosperity and success. He confesses that when he first heard of the Beatitude, he thought of it as a mere unrealistic ideals impossible to live and achieve. Nonetheless he has changed his mind since then.
The second part, Why He Came, depicts the very purpose of Jesus. The author made emphasis that His death was the epitome and the centerpiece of His eventual reincarnation. Yancey reiterated that although Jesus was being bombarded with criticism and pain on His last week before crucifixion, He was actually calling the shots knowing before hand what will happen thus overseeing the entire process. His goal was achieved, through His crucifixion at the Cross.
The third part, Why He Left Behind, described His resurrection from the Cross bringing new hope to mankind. The author here made emphasis on the perspective of human freedom. He strongly lamented on the fact that Jesus followers were not living by examples and merely resorted to the use of authority, miracle, and mystery yielding to the very temptation that Jesus successfully resisted.
All throughout the book, the author lively made narrative description of his own personal convictions based on his interactions and thoughts to other people and on his personal experiences. It delves deeply towards a journey looking for the original Jesus Christ. Though far from confining the matter to his own personal perspective, the author collected information and data all throughout the world quoting extensively from the writing and sayings of other people from vast cultural, religious, and cultural background. As a whole, the book depicts a credible glimpse of Jesus based on His historical and cultural settings. The question of “how would we re-act” today was strongly asked throughout the book and it only meant that we should re-consider our view and ideals regarding The Jesus We Never Knew.