Yes, it is true.  Writers have favorite writers.  And one of my favorite writers, preachers, and Christian persons is Bishop Will Willimon.  He has a wonderful new book. It’s short, to the point, pointed, equal parts eloquent and deliberately irritating.  And he is absolutely right— so many people who think they know Jesus, don’t know him very well at all.  And some of them don’t know him personally at all, either.   Will Willimon has been a follower of Jesus all his adult life.  But before that happened Jesus came into his life “unsought and uninvited, took over, and refused to go. He led me into dangerous territory. Only later did I learn this was typical”  (p. ix).   This book is both a personal testimony of sorts, and a tribute to the man, about whom Eduard Schweizer said “fits no one formula”.   Let me tell you in advance, this is one of the best books, and perhaps the best short book, written on Jesus in my lifetime.  Sell the dog, and buy this book and read it over and over again.   

It’s appropriate here at Christmas to talk about the man who would be, and is king, lord, messiah, savior, God’s Son, and at the same time the mysterious Son of Man.   Will is right that Jesus “manages to be unfathomable, deep, ungraspable, and yet oddly close, intimate talkative, and relentlessly relational.”  (p. ix).   Examining the Son is rather like trying to stare at the sun.  You can easily go blind and see not much of anything in the process. “Sometimes, the burning sun is best viewed by watching those upon whom it shines.”  (p. xi).  I quite agree.  If the measure of a man is the impact crater he made on others, then Jesus was the largest meteorite to ever come from outer space and land on planet earth. 

I remember going to visit the largest meteor crater in America.  It’s in Arizona, and we got there in the late afternoon just before it closed.  It’s about 43 miles east of Flagstaff and a great place to go after the Grand Canyon, because after that hole in the ground, its going to take something gigantic to impress you, if its another hole in the ground. Meteor Crater is nearly one mile across, 2.4 miles in circumference and more than 550 feet deep,   If you put twenty new Dallas football stadiums in the bottom of it, they would barely make a noticeable dent.    Here’s a picture.


You can barely see the old NASA building down there in the middle.  Here’s my point.  We don’t have the meteorite that created this crater. But nobody is denying it was enormous because of its impact crater, this gigantic hole in the ground.  Well Jesus has had a bigger impact crater, a greater effect than this on billions of people over two millenia.  It doesn’t take finding his remains to know he existed and did some remarkable things and continues to do them.

I like what Will says about the dilemma facing historians when it comes to Jesus. “A dearly loved principle of historians is probability, but the Gospels present Jesus as a wild, weird, and improbable character…. Most of what we hanker to know about Jesus is beyond historians’ reach….I find delicious irony in the fact that Jesus changed the entire course of history but was [largely] ignored by historians of his day. Historians don’t tend to care about Gailiean peasants who neither wrote books nor led armies.”  (p. xi).   He’s right about that of course.  Tacitus was only interested in writing the life of his favorite relative, a general— Agricola.  He barely mentions Jesus in passing, and the same can be said for Josephus.   So let’s take a walk down a Galilean road with two companions—- Will Willimon and Jesus.  I promise it won’t be the same ole same ole.  It won’t be boring.  

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