That Man Jesus by Martin Down

Did you know that Jesus experienced sexual temptation? See below.

Down relates Jesus’s life chronologically, including almost all the details from the gospels and adding occasional human touches, such as His heart searching concerning His identity and mission, and that He had a friend near the Jordan at whose house He stayed several days. Such details help fill in gaps and make some of the encounters more plausible.

Calling the book an historical novel is a bit bold, as it lacks suspense and the prose is rather drab; it would hardly be considered gripping by a modern reader, especially one who is unfamiliar with the story. However, the message comes across powerfully: Jesus was loving and kind but demanded total commitment from His followers; He was founding a new community based on love – the Kingdom of God – not of this world, but belonging to a spiritual, a heavenly world, a world to come. As such, He had no intention of overthrowing the Romans, although that was what some of His followers hoped. His false trial, lashing and death are portrayed very vividly, as are the resurrection appearances, in which He emphasises that He Himself is the evidence of the new heavens and new earth, which He promises His followers will enjoy.

Some significant quotes and observations:

  • God’s law will be written on your hearts… no longer a burden but a joy. Not a list of rules to be obeyed, but a new life of freedom, grace and peace.
  • Depend on God and you’ll find true happiness.
  • Loving God and being loved by him is the most important thing in life.
  • “What does she think she’s doing?” The silence continued while the woman went on wiping Jesus’s feet with her hair. Jesus was conscious of the closeness of the woman, of her hands and her hair touching his feet. The man in him could not but be aware of the sexual frisson of the act. He felt the attraction of the opposite sex and the common desire for intimacy, for someone to love and to hold. But always there was the sense that he had to keep himself from women. It was not easy.
  • Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice’.
  • They’re slaves to the Law… God is a Father who loves his children and wants them to live full and happy lives.
  • The laws of God are a hedge of protection, not a … burden for us to bear.
  • I’m asking you to make a more permanent commitment.
  • The kingdom of God belongs to women and children too, not just to you men.
  • These are days of rejoicing, because the kingdom of God is breaking in, here on Earth.
  • The kingdom of God requires people to respond… repent and believe.
  • You have to let God be God. One time he’ll do it one way and another, another.
  • The kingdom of God is about starting with the whole world over again.
  • In Jesus, God was invading the Earth. There was no escaping battle. But his weapons were truth, love, compassion. He had to bear the hatred and violence, cruelty, vice, greed, selfishness; to extinguish fire by love.
  • Only a suffering God can forgive the sins of a suffering world.
  • The only way to redeem evil was to soak it up; accept it and return it with good.
  • They will persecute you. The Holy Spirit will take my place as your helper.
  • Now that Kingdom must be built up in people’s hearts and minds.
  • ‘The story of Jesus is just a sound born on the air. Only as … the words come closer, does the story and the meaning become clearer and they start to hear it and believe it.’

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