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Saturday, April 19, 2014

"Crucify!" (Timothy J. Stoner)

TITLE: Crucify!: Why the Crowd Killed Jesus
AUTHOR: Timothy J. Stoner
PUBLISHER: Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook Publishers, 2014, (233 pages).

How did a jubilant crowd on Palm Sunday become vicious accusers and haters of Jesus a week after? How can one that the people proclaim king one day become a cursed one another day? What are the motives of the people behind the great reversal? Stoner examines these questions, probes the original motives, and gently introduce the idea that we in the modern world are not necessarily much different from the people who put Jesus to death. It has to do who wrongly placed expectations. The people who expected to be delivered by a mighty king with great political power and charisma decided to curse and condemn the One who rode into Jerusalem on a humble donkey. The mob mentality turned vicious and violent. The author, Timothy J Stoner is the son of missionary parent, growing up in Chile and Spain. He probes into the four gospels to put together some of the reasons for the people's change of mind and warns us of several ways in which we can do likewise.

While there were high hopes of a Messiah figure to come to deliver Israel, the religious leaders during Jesus' time seem more content to preserve their own religious rules and power base. By defying conventional wisdom and going against the religious leaders of the day, Jesus had already set himself up for the grand confrontation. Jesus reveals gradually that the reason why the people hated the light is simply because they are lovers of the dark. As Jesus' teachings become increasingly difficult to understand, people soon distance themselves from him. His stories require people to adopt new eyes of understanding, and people who refuse to change will never understand. In each chapter, Stoner presents the gospel according to the Bible, and tackles the skepticism and suspicions of Reza Aslan. Aslan essentially denies the divinity of Christ and the historicity of the gospels in his book, "Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth." Stoner takes time to debunk Aslan's thesis and assumptions using the Bible as the primary tool. He also brings in several other others like CS Lewis, Alfred Edersheim, and others. Gradually, the book moves toward Passion Week, leading to the climax according to the title of the book.

With each description of the scandalous way Jesus was treated, readers are invited to reflect on how we can dishonour Christ through our erroneous expectations of our own faith. Have we rejected Jesus in our actions even when we confess Him as Lord? Are we deceiving ourselves that we would never have done the same thing to Jesus if we were in Jerusalem that very day? Will we crucify Jesus all over again in our erroneous and sinful ways? Will we stumble ourselves when we fail to appreciate what Jesus had done for us? These are pertinent questions that ought to keep us humble. What if the crowds of yesterday are already lurking somewhere, looking for a chance to stumble us in our faith to Jesus? Never say never.

Rating: 4 stars of 5.


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