“Jesus Is” by Judah Smith
About four years ago, Judah Smith’s church wanted to put Jesus on the minds of people living in Seattle. So the church put up billboards with the phrase, “Jesus Is _____.” Implicit in the phrase is the question, What comes to mind when you think about Jesus?
Now Judah Smith has written a book explaining what comes to his mind when he thinks about Jesus: Jesus is your friend, Jesus is grace, Jesus is happy, and so on.
Jesus Is: Find a New Way to Be Human is a good book. On a scale of one to ten, I’d give it a twelve. It’s one of the best books I have read on the gospel of grace. (And I’ve read a lot!)
What makes this book special?
One thing stands out. A lot of grace books are written primarily for Christian audiences. If you look at the books by Andrew Farley, Joseph Prince, Andrew Wommack, or my own books, you will find plenty of scripture references. Christians love these. Non-Christians, not so much. Quote chapter and verse from the Bible and their eyes glaze over. It’s not a language they understand.
Smith’s book is different. It was written for a wider audience than any grace book I have seen. It is full of pop-culture references, quotes “Pastor Jerry Seinfeld,” and calls Jesus the ultimate zombie. (He came back from the dead and now’s he’s gunning for you. Geddit?)
Does this matter? You bet it does! The good news is for everyone but not everyone is getting it. Those who are far from God and imagine him to be angry need to hear that:
If Jesus is the friend of sinners, it means God is the friend of sinners. (p.22)
The reason this book works is because Judah Smith is a first-rate story-teller. And he’s a funny to boot. His account of the Sermon on the Mount left me in stitches. Smith uses humor to dismantle religious mindsets and to show us that Jesus was a real person who spoke about real life.
He didn’t pontificate theologically in order to impress people. He told stories. If he were on earth today, everyone would follow him on Twitter and read his blog because he was real. He was authentic. What he said made sense. It went straight to the heart of the matter. (p.37)
Why do I recommend Jesus Is? Because it goes further than most in bringing the good news of grace to the widest possible audience. This is entirely consistent with the gospel, which is
…good news for everyone. It’s not good news just for people who are already good, for those who are self-controlled and disciplined enough to have all their ducks in a row. It’s good news for the people who can’t even find their ducks. They haven’t seen some of their ducks in years. Their lives are a mess. But they can come to Jesus and find instant acceptance. (p.126)
The strength of this book – its wide appeal – is also its weakness. The book gives a good introduction to the gospel of grace but leaves unasked many of the “what about” questions. But then this book is not meant to be an introduction to the gospel of grace; it’s meant to introduce the reader to Jesus. And on that score, the book is a home run.
This book is a manifesto of sorts. It is a simple call to return to a simple faith in a simple person. Jesus is the sum and substance of the gospel. He is the core of Christianity. (p.73)
If you are looking for a jargon-free grace book to give to your unsaved friends, look no further. Jesus Is is the book for you. It’s also the book for them.
Thank you for this and to Judah, as reading this is a confirmation that my own book is exactly where it is supposed to be.
The lack of references was concerning me only yesterday, not I know I am on the right track. Thank you.
Great post on a great book. I would also say it’s a great book for Christians because Pastor Judah’s down to earth way of relating to people portrays that side of Jesus which is often lost today.
most excellent! i was not aware of this book – but i have watched one of judah smith’s sermons and recommended the city church to my daughter, who lives in the seattle area, a few months ago… i dont think she has gone yet, but i will have to get her this book so she can get a taste of what she’ll be in for! 🙂
sounds good Ive always loved people who use the [kiss] principle [ keep it simple stupid ] my favorite people are story tellers [ will rogers], [mark twain] they bring it to a level you can relate to,thats one thing i admired about Bob Mumford,he would relate it on a level we could understand……………..one of my favorites was,someone,you have a problem with you want……… to bless them with a brick……………and one time I said I was having a problem with sin or temptation and i told him,I wanted the lord to do something to help me,and he said, ya I know,[ Lord break my arm so i dont steal anything.], ok ill stop rambling now. I my have to get this one.
Sounds like a great and worthy read! Although I’d like to say that of course it’s Christians who need the gospel of grace most – even very legalistic types dig upfront grace and a good ‘black sheep coming back to the fold’ story. Being saved in grace isn’t the challenge – building your life on grace, even in the face of a church that’ll kick you out over it, most certainly is. Happy Christmas to all out there, Jesus bless you x
I just finished reading this book today and was glad to see it reviewed here. It’s far from exhaustive, but then the scope of the person of Jesus is way too large for any book(s) to tackle thoroughly. It’s a good, fun read, and it’s a great place for a “seeker” or new Christian to start on their journeys of discovering who Jesus is to them.
Thanks for recommendation! I just can’t get enough of Jesus and Grace. It is also a fun read. I bought the Kindle addition for family and friends for just $2.99. Thanks again. Be Blessed, Steve
5 Star Grace Books
Here’s one I put on my wish list. Has anyone read it?
Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary
I am in the middle of reading this book it is awesome. not only does he preach hyper grace. but his first name is the mine to and I also preach hyper grace how cool