We need more books about Jesus.
There are benefits to reading about topics related to the Christian life: marriage and singleness, suffering and joy, evangelism and prayer.
But if there’s one theme we ought to return to time and time again, surely it should be our Saviour Jesus Christ. We can never hear about Jesus too often, never plumb the depths of his goodness and glory.
We can never hear about Jesus too often, never plumb the depths of his goodness and glory.
Jonty Rhodes’s Man of Sorrows, King of Glory is a wonderful new book that helps us see Jesus more clearly.
Look Deeper at the Cross
What can we say about Jesus over a few hundred pages? That’s where we run into a problem. In our (rightful) quest to be cross-centred, we narrow our vision of who Jesus is and what he’s done. We say, “Jesus died for my sins on the cross,” and stop there—but we’re missing the riches of Christ when we don’t dig deeper into what this actually means. The solution is not to find a different focus than the cross, but instead to look deeper at the cross.
In Man of Sorrows, King of Glory, Rhodes helps us do just that by explaining the threefold office of Christ—a doctrine that has deep roots in church history but is largely neglected among Christians today. Rhodes explains how Adam failed in the Garden of Eden to fulfill the roles God had given him. He should have spoken truth in response to Satan’s lies to Eve, protected the holiness of his wife and the place where they dwelt with God, and exercised dominion by conquering the serpent. But he failed on all counts. Rhodes writes, “That’s why a second Adam was needed: a true prophet to open our eyes, a priest to cleanse us from sin, and a king to conquer death and the devil on our behalf” (24).
Man of Sorrows, King of Glory
Evangelicals, rightly called “people of the cross,” look to Jesus’s death and resurrection as the central points of his earthly mission. However, many Christians have questions about these pivotal events and what followed—Why did Jesus rise from the dead? Why did he ascend into heaven? What is he doing now?
In Man of Sorrows, King of Glory, Jonty Rhodes uses the traditional roles of Jesus as prophet, priest, and king and his humiliation at the cross and exaltation at the resurrection to address these questions. As believers explore Jesus’s life, death, resurrection, and ascension, they will develop a deeper appreciation for God’s plan to reclaim sinners.
See how much richer this understanding of Jesus is? We need a comprehensive vision of Jesus’s work and his heart towards us. He is more than a ticket to heaven! Here at the cross we see Jesus, in his boundless grace, make right what was broken in the fall. The second Adam does what the first Adam did not—the cross is Jesus’s “pulpit, altar, and throne” (54).
Look Wider than the Cross
Even while we keep the cross central in our theology, Rhodes wants us to look wider: “It’s possible that we’ve fallen into the trap of only ever speaking about Christ in his humiliation and neglecting his ongoing work in his state of exaltation” (18). We make the gospel all about Good Friday and forget about Resurrection Sunday. Rhodes structures Man of Sorrows, King of Glory to correct this imbalance, exploring the threefold office from the lenses of Christ’s humiliation (his incarnation, life, burial, and death) and his exaltation (his resurrection, ascension, session, and return).
We make the gospel all about Good Friday and forget about Resurrection Sunday.
We’re robbing ourselves of joy—and a deeper relationship with Christ—when we neglect to meditate on, teach about, and sing of Jesus’s ongoing work for us now as our glorified prophet, priest, and king. Jesus is working for us still today, and he will continue until we’re safely home.
Jonty Rhodes isn’t reinventing the wheel here. He is not, thankfully, trying to say anything new. He draws deeply from theologians throughout church history, citing classic creeds and confessions as well as the likes of Calvin and Bavinck. He brings these old truths and presents them afresh. And I’m grateful for that—the church needs to proclaim the glorious riches of Jesus far and wide in every generation.
I hope Man of Sorrows, King of Glory will be just one of many books written about Jesus in this generation, for the joy and edification of his people. I commend it to anyone who wants to know Christ better and love him more—there is no higher goal we could pursue.
First published at reformers.com.au