To be fair, I went into this expecting something more like a far more orthodox The Last Temptation of Christ—i.e., something that really focused on Christ’s humanness rather than His divinity. And the introductory material—especially the opening salvo “Did Jesus ever have a stomach virus?”—seemed to support that assumption. Thus, 50 pages in, I’d felt that the author had missed the mark in terms of the title’s (and especially subtitle’s) promise.
But now, at the other end of reading this, I think Patrick Reardon really is talking about a Jesus I missed, and aspects of His humanity that I really hadn’t grasped before. Really, this book reveals a lot more about our humanness than Christ’s—and how God desires to transform it into what He’s always intended. And boy, is that a good thing. And as such, it’s a great book to work through during this Lenten season.
Patrick Henry Reardon. The Jesus We Missed: The Surprising Truth About the Humanity of Christ. 256p., $15.99, Thomas Nelson.
What Reardon does deliver, and in spades, is a view of what a perfect human life actually looks like, and how a man with a “clear channel to God,” as it were, reveals God/divinity at every turn. And of course it would. But how many times do we write off Jesus’ works on earth as, “Well, of course He could do it—He’s Jesus,” rather than believe the truth of Jesus’ own words: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12, ESV)?
In between, however, there’s some very fascinating observations. For example, imagine being Jesus reading the Old Testament, growing up in the synagogue, and recognizing Himself as the Messiah being spoken of, the co-composer of the words being read, the physical affirmation of the truth of those words. Also, to again, hit on above, the recognition that Jesus, being the perfect man, would of course manifest all the spiritual gifts of prophecy, healing, discernment and the like. If a man like Elijah could do these things, why wouldn’t Jesus?
There’s a lot more to discover here. But by examining the life of Jesus in detail, Reardon gives us a vision of the life Jesus means for each of us to have, as we believe and trust more deeply in Him. We see One who “emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:7) but who nonetheless was in constant communion with God. Because of this, Jesus looks at even the most common things in godly terms, and by doing so transforms them into lessons, parables, teaching instruments…. temporary things capable of conveying eternal life. And in doing so, shows us how to follow Him as human beings.