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253 pages
Jul 2006
InterVarsity Press

Surprised by Jesus: His Agenda for Changing Everything in A.D. 30 And Today

by Tim Stafford

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Many people have the image of Jesus as a kind shepherd delicately caressing a little lamb, such a serene and loving Savior. But Tim Stafford wants his readers to picture a more complete Jesus—one who can display a wide variety of emotions and actions without losing focus on His mission. It is precisely that mission – the arrival and establishment of the Kingdom of God – that Stafford masterfully presents to his readers.

Stafford starts with the familiar scene that begins Jesus’ ministry: His baptism by John the Baptist. He explains the historic Jewish context of the baptism and what it signified for Jesus as well as the people of Israel. Stafford provides insight into the necessity to understand first-century Judaism and how much of a foundation that played in everything Jesus did. Viewed from that perspective, the reader can appreciate the words and acts of Jesus with deeper understanding and significance.

Stafford explains how Jesus’ Jewish heritage was revealed in His prayers, warnings, symbolic language, and how he dealt with Satan’s temptations in the wilderness. He looks at the various philosophies about resurrection, and also the importance of Jesus heading straight for Jerusalem and the horrible crucifixion awaiting Him there.

Surprised by Jesus will probably surprise many readers, but it will be a joyful and enlightening type of surprise. By understanding how thoroughly Jesus understood His mission and how much He was driven by it, the reader will get a more comprehensive view of Jesus Christ. A study guide is also provided for personal or group study. – Jeff Friend, Christian Book

Book Jacket:

We all know who Jesus is--or think we do. We see children flock to him and gentle wisdom lovingly pour from him. We see the kindest man in the world. But these pictures are deceptively familiar.

In the Gospels Jesus says and does many puzzling things--like shriveling a fig tree or telling followers to keep his miracles a secret. He is hard on his opponents, the Pharisees, but also makes extreme demands on his followers--like urging them to be as perfect as the Father in heaven.

Tim Stafford, informed by acclaimed New Testament scholars such as N. T. Wright, takes us behind such two-dimensional images by unearthing the specific historical and cultural situation of Jesus' day. What Jesus said about the kingdom of God, about sin, about Satan, about prayer, about the temple, about Israel and the people of God were all profoundly affected by his being a Jew in a land dominated by the ancient Romans.

In fact, through his message and actions he meant to change things far more profoundly in his day and ours than we can ever imagine.