Judah Smith has a fresh, clear way for us to view Jesus and His love for us. You can read my full review of Jesus Is _____ by clicking here. Below are 11 quotes from this book that got me thinking—
“The Pharisees were zealous for the law, but they didn’t understand the love of God. They imposed judgment without mercy, punishment without love, criticism without understanding. In the name of hating sin, the Pharisees ended up hating sinners. Perhaps worst of all, they concluded that their aloofness from sinners was what made them holy. The measuring stick of their goodness was the badness of the people they rejected. …Before we get too furious at the Pharisees, though, realize that inside each of us is a Pharisee trying to get out. It’s happened to me. No sooner do I conquer a bad habit than I become the biggest critic of anyone who still does what I just stopped doing. I find that righteous indignation comes a lot easier than humility and compassion. Mentally chastising the bad deeds of other people is more comfortable than dealing with my own.”
“Rather than rejecting people out of a false sense of superiority, rather than judging and condemning those whose lives don’t measure up to my standard of holiness, I need to remember that I am still desperately in need of Jesus’ grace.”
“Besides writing off bad people, we too quickly write off ourselves. We swing from the self-righteous side of the pendulum (That filthy sinner deserves to go to hell!) to the self-condemning side (I’m a filthy sinner who deserves to go to hell!). Both extremes come from focusing on rules rather than on a relationship with Jesus.”
“I think if Jesus had one shot at fixing us, He’d tell us how much He loves us. …Jesus loves us right now, just as we are. He isn’t standing aloof, yelling at us to climb out of our pits and clean ourselves up so we can be worthy of Him. He is wading waist-deep into the muck of life, weeping with the broken, rescuing the lost, and healing the sick.”
“When we realize that grace is a Person, not a principle, abusing grace is no longer an option. It’s easy to abuse a principle, to manipulate a system, or to excuse away a doctrine. But it’s much harder to abuse a person or violate a relationship.”
“Rules are not bad, but they can’t save anyone. The best a rule or a law can do is set a boundary and threaten punishment for crossing that boundary. People still decide to obey the rule or not. …Rules are meant to lead us to relationship, not to replace relationship. …Focusing too much on rules and too little on grace tells children that what they do is more important than who they are. …These principles aren’t just for parenting. This is how our relationship with God works. For God, it’s more about relationship than about rules. Far more.”
“When we make up rules because we are afraid people will sin, we end up doing an end run around faith. It’s not fear that saves us—it’s faith. Fear of failure has a sneaky way of becoming a self-fulfilling prophesy. …Make rules and follow rules as needed, but don’t focus on rules. Focus on faith. Focus on grace. Focus on Jesus. …Here’s the bottom line: everything that rules can do, grace can do better, and more besides.”
“Rules address behavior, but they don’t deal with the heart. They don’t adjust attitudes. They don’t heal the inconsistencies and fractures deep in our souls that could destroy us in the end. Grace, on the other hand, is internal. It works on a heart level. Where rules attempt to force us to do the opposite of what we want, grace actually changes what we want. It creates internal consistency and integrity. Doing what is right becomes much easier. …When we focus on Jesus instead of a code of conduct, when grace changes our desires so we are internally motivated and not just externally restrained, we become a lot more fun to be around.”
“Grace wasn’t free for Jesus. It cost Him everything. That is precisely why we should receive it freely. The most insulting thing we could do is reject this costly gift and say, ‘No thanks, God, I got this.’ Please don’t tell me Jesus was beaten and mutilated and tortured so we could try to save ourselves through our paltry good deeds. Don’t cheapen Jesus’ sacrifice by trying to pay Him back.”
“The point isn’t to quit thinking about sin. It’s to quit thinking about self and to think about Jesus. It’s to become God-conscious, not me-conscious. Do you know what law does? Law makes us self-conscious. When we are self-conscious, we become sin-conscious. We take our eyes off Jesus, and we focus on our failures, our weaknesses, our shortcomings. And we end up sinning even more because that’s all we can think about. But grace makes us God-conscious. When we live by grace, we are continually amazed by the love, goodness, and holiness of God. When we think about Him, that motivates us to act like Him. Are you struggling with sin? You don’t need more willpower. You need more of Jesus. Loving Jesus, not avoiding sin, is the focal point of our lives.”
“Holiness results in happiness, and happiness is an expression of holiness. The two go together. I am happier because I am holy, and it’s easier to be holier because I am happy. Because of the good news, because of Jesus, I can be both holy and happy—what a concept!”
If someone asked you to fill in the blank to this question, could you do it quickly: “Jesus is ______”? After reading Judah’s Smith book by this title, you will find it much easier to get a clearer picture of just who Jesus is.
Through the 2000 years since Jesus Christ’s public ministry, many people have made statements trying to define Jesus. In Jesus Is_____, Pastor Judah Smith confronts head-on a lot of the incorrect stereotypes that exist for those both in the Christian tradition, and those outside of it. They are really quite simple statements—Jesus is your friend, Jesus is grace, Jesus is the point, Jesus is happy, Jesus is here, and Jesus is alive—but it’s amazing how complicated and messy we have made these simple thoughts.
Pastor Smith is very candid and personable in his writing, so he let us see inside his own thought processes as he wrestled with these concepts about who Jesus is. In each section, he brings a fresh perspective to help us cut through the haze created by so many people’s misunderstanding of Jesus Christ.
Whether you have had a relationship with Jesus for years, or whether you’ve only heard His name but aren’t really sure about much else concerning Him, Jesus Is _____ will help you see Jesus Christ more clearly. This is an excellent book to use in a small group discussion, as together the group can move into a clearer, biblically-sound picture of Jesus.
I am a Thomas Nelson book reviewer.