Summer Book Review: “Knowing Jesus” [Ch. 3]

knowing Jesus PhotoThis summer I’ve been sharing a chapter-by-chapter summary/review of Wright’s Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament, a book I thoroughly enjoyed this past year. Have you picked up your copy yet? I encourage you to read along and share comments on here as well!  I think you’ll find it to be a rewarding summer read.

Chapter Three: Jesus and His Old Testament Identity

The key question Wright answers in this chapter is front and center at the very beginning: Who was Jesus? And he gets right to the answer as well, unpacking the baptism of Jesus and the bottom-line title given by the Father, “You are/This is my Son.” Of all the chapters, this one, to me, was the most targeted and succinct: it contained a proficient, laser-like focus throughout that was attractive and compelling. As Wright says about this key event that establishes Jesus’ identity, “Jesus’ self-identity was confirmed by his Father’s explicit identification of him.”[1]

As he introduced the idea of Jesus’ identity, two corollary observations Wright brought out were very interesting to me:

  1. The idea that the word Nazarene may have been a nickname, possibly meaning something akin to “the insignificant,” was intriguing. I had not heard that specific bit of information before, but in light of the various ways Nazareth is mentioned in Scripture, I can see the reasoning behind this conjecture. I thought it was insightful and helpful.
  2. Luke’s immediate contrast in 3:23 between who God says Jesus was and whom others thought Jesus was was eye-opening. While I’ve read this verse preciously, even highlighted it in a series through Luke several years back as I taught about Jesus’ true Father, I never connected the two commentaries on Jesus’ identity. It was almost a comedic moment for me when I fully grasped Luke’s not-so-cryptic yet somewhat satirical point in this simple verse. So many missed his true identity even though God the Father, and his Old Testament, made it obviously clear.

So much in this chapter opened up the idea of Jesus as God’s Son in ways that I had simply assumed I knew. In reality, I probably overlooked them and didn’t really know them like I thought. But no more! His identity as revealed and confirmed through the Old Testament is now much broader and deeper to me than before.

For instance, 1) Jesus’ self-identity coming from the Hebrew Bible, and 2) his obedience—which was marked by kingship, servanthood, and sacrifice similar to that of King David—as the key trait that he was truly the “Son” (i.e., greater David), are just two of the ways that Jesus’ identity shining through the Old Testament were brought home to me in fresh ways.

Additionally, the six observations about typology were a good reminder, and prompted me to stay within the hermeneutical hedges when it comes to types and analogies. I especially appreciate the last point, number six, and am glad he brought to our attention the unfortunate side affects of ignoring these six principles. Why? This is often what I see and hear in many others who try and make types, pictures, patterns, and analogies “walk on all fours.” What results is usually weird doctrine or incorrect connections.

Closing with the four ways that the father-son metaphor of Israel culture is seen in God and Jesus was a super way to put a perfectly tied bow on the package of this chapter. It solidified his aim and brought us all the way home to his conclusion, namely that “the Old Testament provides the models, picture and patterns by which Jesus understood his own essential identity and especially gave depth and color to his primary self-awareness as the Son of his Father God.”[2]

Your thoughts? Comments? Questions? And if missed previous reviews, read chapter 1 here  and chapter 2 here.

[1] Ibid, 115.

[2] Ibid, 140.


2 Comments on “Summer Book Review: “Knowing Jesus” [Ch. 3]”

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