By Stephen Mansfield
As a pastor/teacher/preacher I have been telling the story of Jesus' death and resurrection for decades. Frankly, while I did not dread "holy week," I often wondered what "fresh insight" could I bring, what words could I say to point folks to the reality of Jesus or awaken my sometimes haggard heart.
Deep down I know this dilemma shouldn't be. How can such a compelling drama of sacrificial love and divine redemption become tired?
Despite what I know I should feel, I wasn't feeling it! That is until I read Stephen Mansfield! Killing Jesus: The Unknown Conspiracy Behind The World's Most Famous Execution. Mansfield's work is a fresh picture of the crucifixion and a reminder of how to read the Word of God.
The Bible reveals sacred truth but it does so through a less sacred-seeming drama—an often earthy, troubling, lewd, starkly human drama. We are meant to know the story against the storm age in which it happened—with all the grimy details fully in view—and to accept it as part of the way God speaks. Blood, spit, wine, semen, sweat, and the offscouring of generations spill out not the page. No apologies are offered. This is the thrashing human drama of God, not some dainty pious tale. This is the Bible. This is why the conspiracy to torture Jesus to death should not be read in too much of a hurry, with too much eagerness to get the body into the tomb--or beyond.
Killing Jesus is anything but sanitary or the musings of a man who dwells in the ivory tower.
Read this book on Good Friday, but not just on Good Friday. Read it in the middle of the year. Read it when your faith is strong and especially when it's running low. Mansfield will not let the crucifixion of Jesus become an asterisk denoting a date in history or a season on the church calendar. This is not sterile reporting. It is the glowing reality of Christ against the dusty background of history.
That said, history comes to life in Killing Jesus. Herod, Pilate, the Centurion guard, Caiaphas, Mary, even the young man in the garden who ran off naked appear vigorous, dusty, and full of broiling emotions. You'll put down this book with a better understanding Rome, Jerusalem, crucifixion, the religious leaders, and mostly Jesus Christ. is the living, loving authority sacrifice of Jesus on full display.
I highly recommend it!