Amazed by Jesus - Book Review

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Book Review

'A sublime portrait of Jesus'. At a time of so much confusion on all manner of things, including Christianity, it is wonderfully refreshing to read a book that paints such a clear — and beautiful — picture of the real Jesus.

Simon Ponsonby actually uses many painting analogies in what amounts to a literary work of art — and I'm not just referring to the part-luminous graphics on the cover.

The Oxford-based Anglican author has used the sharp brushstrokes of his writing skills to present a sublime portrait of history's foremost figure that will certainly have readers wanting to embrace and follow him if they haven't already done so.

With a foreword by Rico Tice, it is laced with fascinating and at times almost incredible stories that he tells so well, some of which moved me to tears.

In doing so, Simon clearly spells out who Jesus is, and who he is not. For example, that he is not our 'au pair' to fetch and carry for us, and that he is 'not a white European' in a chapter helpfully focusing on the Jewishness of Jesus, and the need to restore that connection. I can see myself quoting from this lovely book for years to come.

Do we love Jesus and know we are loved?
With understandable frustration, the author testifies to the multiple interviews he attended as the Church of England sought to discern whether he had the right qualities for ordination — where he was not once asked if he loved Jesus. And yet, following Peter's three denials, Jesus restored him to leadership after three times asking — not for his academic or psychological qualifications — but whether he loved him. Do we love Jesus? That's what it's all about.

And do we know we are loved? Ponsonby confesses to having felt jealous of the 'Beloved disciple' John — what had he done to become the Lord's 'favourite'? — until he realised it was because John simply knew he was loved, and was secure in that relationship. Are we secure in his love?

Stories and images
The story is told of Robert Cornwall, who needed to supplement his income as a pastor with part-time counselling at a psychiatric hospital, and how, within a year, he emptied it of 36 patients simply by sharing the love of Jesus.

I particularly liked the chapter on Jesus being the water of life in which Simon tells of a word God gave him for the Church while on holiday in France. A fishpond had nearly dried up in the severe heat of that summer, and he managed to rescue a carp struggling in the shallows instead of swimming in the deep — a picture of the Church.

Preparing for persecution
The book finishes, as the Bible does, on the truth that Jesus is coming back and warns that, in the meantime, we must prepare for persecution, not escape, citing reports of Christians in China told not to worry because the rapture was coming, leaving them unprepared for the mass torture they were to experience.

My wife and I have been immensely inspired by the TV series The Chosen1, which has served to bring Jesus alive to so many — and I believe this book could do in print what producer Dallas Jenkins has done on film.

The title reflects the way the gospel writers often recorded how the disciples were amazed at what Jesus did, even after being with him for three years. And he is still amazing!

This is a hugely inspiring read worthy of great success, but my prayer is that it will deepen passion and understanding among believers and cause others to be so amazed that they can no longer ignore Jesus.

'Amazed by Jesus', 240 pp, is published by Muddy Pearl and is available at Eden.co.uk and Amazon.
Charles Gardner reviews, Amazed by Jesus, by Simon Ponsonby.

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