The reality of encountering Jesus
Attractive and unsettling
The Reality of Encountering Jesus
By Peter Dickson with David Gibson
Christian Focus.120 pages. £6.99
This is a great book. I. Howard Marshall writes in the foreword: ‘This book demonstrates that encountering Jesus is a matter of urgency for all people everywhere’.
The author clearly longs that believers and unbelievers alike will have a right understanding of the gospel through the message of Luke. The title, Rich, is intriguing in itself. It is not in any way advocating a prosperity gospel. Instead, it is Dickson’s conviction that being spiritually rich is what Luke says the Christian is through faith in Christ — rich in him and rich towards him. Christ’s preaching in the synagogue in Nazareth (Luke 4.14-30) is pivotal in this regard. Both the first and the last chapter of the book use this passage to clearly explain what it means for Jesus to ‘proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour’ in terms of cancelling the spiritual debt we owe to God (the penalty for our sin).
The book is short (nine chapters in 120 pages) and therefore inevitably takes selected passages from Luke’s Gospel. However, each passage is helpfully printed at the start of every chapter (including four pages of Bible text on the trial and death of Jesus) and is put in the context of the wider gospel. Passages are clearly explained (paying close attention to the text), well illustrated (fresh and personal), and carefully applied (contemporary and direct). You can tell that the author is a preacher/pastor used to preaching first to himself (e.g. ‘This is the Jesus I know and love’, p.70), but then appealing to his hearer/reader to know for themselves this love for Jesus (e.g. ‘If you’re lost, come home. If you’re outside, come in’, p.89). In chapter five, Dickson says that the words of Jesus ‘are both incredibly attractive and deeply unsettling’. That could well sum up this book. It’s incredibly attractive to those who want to encounter the real Jesus and be rich towards him (a wholehearted response) — and deeply unsettling for those who do not (e.g. ‘Our rejection of him will one day seal his rejection of us’, p.116). In 2011 this is a book that will certainly be on our church bookstall and will be warmly and equally recommended to both believer and enquirer.
rector, St. Elizabeth’s Church, Dundonald, Belfast