Seedbed is pleased to announce the release of a new book by Kenneth J. Collins titled, Jesus the Stranger: The Man from Galilee and the Light of the World. This inspiring reading of Jesus sources its accounts from the Gospels, as it explores dimensions to his person with which we may be less familiar.
Who is Jesus and what makes him a stranger?
Jesus is a stranger because who he is as a person and what kind of Messiah he would be was rarely acknowledged among a diversity of peoples in the pages of the New Testament. From home-town folk to his own family, from Herod Antipas and even on to his leading disciple Peter, Jesus at times simply puzzled them. Simply put, their own understandings of who Jesus should be actually got in the way of who Jesus actually is.
Can you explain the juxtaposition between the his universality and particularly in the subtitle?
The subtitle of the book was chosen to express the strangeness of Jesus. By the world’s standards, even today, Jesus was a nobody, just some average, male Jew, from Galilee no less, who was making his living as a manual laborer. He was, in other words, eminently forgettable. However, the narrative of the book unveils in carefully chosen panels, just how this Jew, this particular man, was so very different from all other people especially in terms of whom he revealed God to be.
What are some examples of ways the church or culture has misconfigured Jesus in recent years?
The most popular misunderstanding of Jesus today is the politicized Christ whether offered by the left or the right. In these celebrated projects the story of Jesus is made to serve some other “more important” narrative, tackling “real problems,” all of which usually correspond to someone’s particular political judgments which are now masquerading as the “good news” of the gospel.
Another popular misunderstanding of Jesus turns him into a useful valet in which the projects and needs of the ever enthroned, hardly disturbed, self are supposed to be dutifully and carefully met. If all is done right, praise just may be in the offing.
Why do you believe a portrait of Jesus that highlights his opposition is consonant with contemporary culture? How does this relate to the lived experience of God’s people, or those whom Jesus loves?
Perceptive readers will quickly realize that the book has two tracks: a major one, who is Jesus? and a minor one, who are the people whom Jesus encounters and how are they like us today? The character of Jesus is carefully displayed against the backdrop of these oppositional figures, like the Pharisees and Sadducees, for example, who criticize, ostracize and persecute Jesus and effectively make him “the other.” The dynamics that Jesus, himself, suffered in the first century are remarkably similar to what earnest Christians across the globe are suffering today and sometimes even within the church, itself.
You often qualify the word love with “holy.” Why is this important and how does it illuminate God’s character, as well his calling to his people?
As the writings of C.S. Lewis have taught us so well, the word “love” can mean so many different things to many people. For some the word “love” means “like” or “desire” or “lust” or “sexual titillation” or “to my advantage,” a stance that ever has to do with pleasing the self.
This modern conception is not what the Bible means by love, not at all. Indeed, the addition of the little word “holy” to the word “love” takes us not towards any self-indulgent, naïve sentimentality but towards a more serious divine direction (the source of all proper love) that is uncanny, numinous, and above all beautiful.
How should readers expect to use your book? How is the work organized?
The book can be read individually with a chapter or two a day or it can be read within a weekly small group in which the dynamics of many different perspectives can come into play and thereby enhance the reading. The book is carefully laid out so that it can become a thematic journey in which fellow travelers will learn more about Jesus, especially in terms of his enduring love in the face of suffering and rejection, and thereby learn more about themselves as well.
What do you hope readers will walk away with after reading your book?
After participating in this thematic journey, readers should have a much greater appreciation of how Jesus was willing to drink the cup of suffering to its depth and all of this to communicate not only that we are the “beloved,” but also how rich, wide and deep the love of God truly is. In the end the love of God received into the heart through the presence of the Holy Spirit burning within is a love that is transformative and which endures.
Cultural conceptions of Jesus today present a man who is virtually unrecognizable. He is not known, above all, for whom he loves or how he loves. In contrast to this misconfiguration, the Jesus of the Gospels is far more beautiful, and loves more broadly and deeply, than many have imagined. The humble, suffering love of Jesus is uncanny, radiantly beautiful, and in the end transformative. There is nothing like it across the religious landscape or current ideological offerings.
In this engaging work—Jesus the Stranger: The Man from Galilee and the Light of the World—Ken Collins invites the reader to see Jesus in a new way. One that focuses on his humanity, especially in terms of his suffering, rejection, and ostracism by numerous oppositional characters and groups drawn from the pages of the Gospels. From hometown folk to family members, from religious leaders to those who will ultimately seek his death, what emerges from this new vista is a more humane and approachable Jesus, one who can commiserate with the pain and sorrow of our own lives and one who can offer rich and abundant healing, the healing of holy love. Get it from our store here.
- Christian or non-Christian readers
- College or student groups exploring faith
- Book clubs or Sunday School classes
In these pages you’ll:
- Discover a portrait of Jesus in the biblical Gospels you may have hardly known
- Become acquainted with the profound opposition and suffering of Jesus and the ways his love conquered it all
- Be both challenged and encouraged by the holy love of God at work in the person of Jesus