Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ – John PiperPosted by Paul Apple on Dec 14, 2006 in Book Reviews | Comments Off
The book title actually could be expanded to include Sharing Jesus Christ — as well as Seeing and Savoring. If someone truly sees who Jesus is with the eyes of their heart enlightened, they will savor Him and they will share Him with others. This short book of 13 chapters by the insightful Dr. Piper can impact either believers or unbelievers:
“I pray that God will use it to awaken unbelievers to see the self-authenticating greatness and glory of Jesus Christ. And I pray that it will sweeten believers’ sight of the excellence of Christ.” (p.122)
Each chapter draws us out of ourselves to focus on the glory of God as revealed in the person of His Son Jesus Christ. In this culture with its emphasis on self esteem and self-help sermonettes, it is refreshing to meditate on majestic theological truths from God’s perspective.
Each chapter looks at the person of Christ from one distinct perspective and relies on the inspired words of Scripture to develop the major point. The connection to the glory of God is highlighted right in the first chapter where the ultimate mission of Christ is summarized from His own prayer in John 17:24
“Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me.” The Christian Gospel is “the gospel of the glory of Christ” because its final aim is that we would see and savor and show the glory of Christ. For this is none other than the glory of God. (p.16)
The eternal existence of Christ as reflected in the succinct name “I AM” constitutes the major argument Piper uses in support of the deity of Christ. Piper quotes the observation of Jonathan Edwards that in Christ we find “an admirable conjunction of diverse excellencies” (p.29). So that He can be portrayed as both a Lion and a Lamb in very unique fashion. “We rejoice in the strength of his lion-like power and in the tenderness of his lamb-like meekness” (p.33).
Piper goes on to develop the themes of the Joy, the Power and the Wisdom that is found in Jesus Christ. It is a challenge for me to seek that fruit of the Holy Spirit that is reflected in abiding joy. So much of our lives seem to be lived on a roller coaster that is tied to our outward circumstances when we have available the joy that is eternal. “The city of God is a city of joy. And that joy is the indestructible joy of Christ” (p. 39). The response to God’s awesome demonstrations of power in Nature is either: Worship or Curse. We all appreciate the overflowing of God’s goodness, but we need to appreciate as well the necessity of His correction and the purposes behind adversity. The section on the wisdom of Christ points to His complete knowledge of His heavenly Father — that makes Him the perfect communicator to us of who God really is.
Piper moves on to probe some of the depths of the incomparable sufferings of Christ. His reputation while on earth was maligned — despite the testimony of the Father that this was His beloved Son in whom He is well-pleased. His death on the cross, deliverance of us from the bondage of sin and defeat of Satan are all intended to provide us with the privilege and opportunity to trust Him for victory right now in our lives by faith. He didn’t choose to do away with Satan or to immediately bring us to glorification; instead Christ intends that God be glorified through the demonstration of the power of Christ and the defeat of Satan in our lives right now. This is an interesting perspective to contemplate. What is God trying to achieve right now as we wage spiritual warfare?
Both aspects of the mercy and severity of Christ are presented to show that there is no inconsistency but only perfect harmony with the character of God. “Justice is essential among the perfections of God’s glory. But mercy is paramount” (p.84). As sinners we all need the mercies of God every day; despite how we respond to others with far less compassion and long suffering. But Christ never sugar-coated the reality of judgment for sin and hell for unbelievers. His words sound stark and harsh on occasion, but are only a reflection of His desire to shock the self righteous and those oblivious to their need of salvation.
Piper concludes with a focus on the Resurrection and the Second Coming of Christ.”Tremendous divine power preceded, accompanied, and followed the resurrection of Jesus” (p.105). All that Christ promised to believers hinges on the reality and power of His resurrection. We need to cry out, “Give us a brokenhearted boldness in the mercy and the might of Jesus” (p.109).
“We love you, Father. We love your Son’s appearing. Grant us to live out this hope in the freedom of self-sacrifice to the glory of your great grace.” (p.116)