Monday, April 4, 2011

Book Review: Following Jesus, Servant King

book cover

Following Jesus, Servant King:
A Biblical Theology of Covenantal Discipleship
by Jonathan Lunde

ISBN-13: 9780310286165
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Zondervan
Released: November 2010

Source: Review copy from publisher through the koinonia blog for blog tour.

Book Description from Back Cover:
Throughout the Old Testament and into the New, God not only demands righteousness from his people but also showers on grace that enables them to act. Jesus, of course, provides the ultimate fulfillment of these twin aspects of God's relationship to humanity. In biblical terms, Jesus is the King who demands righteous obedience from his followers, and Jesus is the Servant who provides the grace that enables this obedience.

So what does it mean to follow Jesus? What does God expect from his followers, and how can they be and do what is required?

Jonathan Lunde answers these and other questions in his sweeping biblical study on discipleship. He surveys God's interaction with his people from Eden to Jesus, paying special attention to the biblical covenants that illuminate the character and plans of God.

My Review:
Following Jesus, Servant King is a theology book that explores Scripture using cultural background information to help explain what Jesus expected from His followers. The author explained how the two types of covenants (grant, conditional) work. He then talked about the covenants found in the Old Testament, how God's grace was always involved, and how this provided insights into the grace/works aspects of the New Covenant.

He also explored the three ways in which Jesus brought the law to its fulfillment: by changing our need for it (like the sacrificial system), by explaining the original intent (like loving your neighbor), and by heightening it by getting at inner thought issues (like Jesus' anger/murder, lust/adultery commands). He also explored how Jesus intended for us to be able to met these high standards.

The author quoted verses from the Old and New Testament to make his points, but he also used cultural background information about the different types of covenants, the law, and discipleship to help clarify some seemingly difficult or confusing points in Scripture. He did an excellent job of explaining the tensions found in Scripture. The writing was formal in tone but not difficult to follow.

The author gave good illustrative examples and made thorough arguments (with excellent footnoting of his sources), but the writing in the first section sometimes seemed wordier than necessary. Overall, though, I found this book very interesting and informative. I would recommend it to those who want to better understand the role of grace and the law in the Christian life.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
"Follow me."

With these words, Jesus summarizes his call to discipleship. But what exactly does he mean by this command? What does following him involve? How we answer this question is crucially important, because the nature of our lives as disciples — what we actually do and how we live as Christians — will largely depend on our understanding of what Jesus means by these words.

Does following Jesus simply mean confessing him as our Savior, going to church on a regular basis, and giving to Christian causes? Does it entail leaving everything behind and going into full-time missionary work in some far-off land? Or does it mean committing ourselves to obey the Golden Rule throughout our lives, doing our best to love those people who come across our paths? As you know, people who identify themselves as followers of Jesus embrace these and a host of other interpretations, which leads to a wide diversity in Christian expressions, some of which are surely not what Jesus had in mind.

Read more of chapter one.


Jeremy Myers said...

This is a great review. I like your format and approach to book reviews. Very organized and thorough.

Anyway, I also read the book. I had mixed feeling about it. Why? Not because of the book content. I'm just tired of reading about biblical covenants. However, I really liked the sections where he dealt with biblical passages and explained them in detail.

Thanks for your review!

Debbie of ChristFocus said...


Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment about the book. I'm glad you like my review format.