Jesus Journey: Shattering The Stained Glass Superhero And Discovering The Humanity Of God, a 40-Day Encounter, by Trent Sheppard
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/Zondervan. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
It is a measure of the excellence of this book that while I was reading it I was entirely unaware that this book was part of the subgenre of Christian literature known as the 40-day devotional . To be sure, the chapters were short, in that the 40 chapters of this book make up only a bit more than 200 pages of writing, and one would have wished for a bit more length and detail in the material, but the chapters were sufficiently engaging, and I must have been sufficiently absent-minded while reading, that I viewed this book as a historical and theological work on Jesus Christ rather than a devotional, and there is little better praise I can give to such an “encounter” as this book than not to think of it as a devotional at all. Indeed, this is a work that seriously tackles the tendency within Christian circles to disregard the humanity of Jesus Christ and to neglect the inspirational value of what Jesus Christ’s humanity has to say about our own, and has a great deal to say that is worthwhile.
After a humorous and somewhat poignant story where the writer was reminded that Jesus had an aunt just like most people do, the forty chapters of this book are divided into five sections with eight chapters apiece. The first section looks at Jesus Christ in the context of his mother and stepfather, and the sensitivities that Jesus Christ likely gained as a result of his upbringing and the way his mother’s virtue was continually under slanderous assault. The second section looks at Jesus’ relationship while a human being with His heavenly Father. Then the author looks at Jesus with his friends–John the Baptist (his cousin, of course), Mary and Martha, the disciples, as well as general sense of humor in dealing with those around him. The third part of the book looks at the physicality of the blood, sweat, and tears shed by Jesus Christ during his life, before closing with a lengthy look at Jesus’ humanity after resurrection. Throughout the author takes special care to remind the reader that the humanity of Jesus Christ has implications for believers in how they are to live lives and see Jesus Christ not merely as a remote sort of superhero bur rather as someone we can model ourselves after in a great many practical concerns.
The author does not go as far as might be wished with this insight, though. The main flaws of this book relate to the unbiblical ideas the author has about the nature of God as well as the defective but traditional chronology he holds to concerning the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. These problems are related to the incomplete nature of the humanity that the author embraces. The author embraces the general humanity of Jesus Christ, his physicality, his love of humor, his enjoyment of food and the company of friends, and so on. However, the author does not appear to evince any interest in the humanity of Jesus Christ insofar as it relates to his Jewish background and the implications of his own example as a believer on our own beliefs and practices as contemporary believers. As the author perceptively notes, there are many mysteries and areas that we do not fully understand regarding Jesus Christ, but we should at least attempt to understand all that is possible and at least demonstrate a curiosity in the implications of Jesus’ humanity on how we are to live our lives as we await His return and entrance into His family as spirit beings like the resurrected Christ.
 See, for example: