Was Jesus 100% God, or 100% man? Or did he have a mixture of humanity and divinity, some 50-50 mix? Or 60-40?
This has been a question that has bothered Christians since the days of the Early Church, with Christians falling on different answers. For most Christians, the answer is usually heavy on the divinity, with humanity sprinkled in. Trent Sheppard disagrees. Jesus was not some mixture of divinity and humanity, Jesus was 100% and 100%. But as a reaction to most Christian’s belief in Jesus’ overbearing divinity, Jesus Journey comes to show us how human Jesus really was.
Created as a devotional for individuals or small groups, Sheppard aims to break down the idea that Jesus was some kind of “superman” or something very different from human. Jesus was human. He had to grow up, go to school and learn. He had a family. He worked, hard. He experienced fatigue and hunger. He may have experienced physical attraction.
While some of these ideas will take some time to work through or digest, Sheppard dives into Scripture to show that Jesus was indeed human, something that the Gospels clearly speak about. For those that do not see such things are worthy of examination, what Sheppard is doing with Jesus Journey is feeding people’s faith in an Advocate that completely understands what we are going through.
While this is intended to be a “40-Day Encounter”, you can power through it and still drink deeply of the great insights that Trent Sheppard has to share. The level of humanity that he brings to light is amazing. Even the simplest things “flesh” out who this Jesus was. In the Introduction, Sheppard shares how the humanity of Jesus changed his faith, and it started with the idea that Jesus had an aunt. It’s something that most of us know, but we don’t’ think of Jesus asking his aunt if John the Baptist can come play, or something like that. But would be completely normal and realistic because Jesus was just as human as we are.
Jesus Journey is full of insights like that, going through the entire life of Jesus, hitting every major event that is recorded in the Gospels. While we often think of Jesus in terms of his divinity in all of his dealings, there was a very human man, with human emotions and understanding behind each miracle, each teaching, each time Jesus suffered. It is a lot to handle, making this a 40-day trip that much easy to work through. Too much change makes it easier to revoke, and the truth in Jesus Journey should not be revoked. Churches need to grab on to this.
While I enjoy Sheppard’s book, there was something that happened when Jesus Journey transitioned toward the events of the Crucifixion that frustrated me. The book is about displaying the true humanity, how Jesus was 100% man while still being 100% divine. That stopped being explored when we start moving with Jesus towards Jerusalem and the Passion Week.
One particular chapter was about the Last Supper and Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. Sheppard rightly points out that Judas would have been there for the washing of the feet, while Jesus fully understood what he was about to do, namely betray Him. The idea that Jesus, even as a man, stooped down to bless the man that would hand him over to destruction, is something that is rich for exploration about the human nature of Jesus. To have every fiber of your being screaming against your actions, to feel the fight between serving God and serving Himself would have been wonderful to see talked about. This emotion continues all the way to Gethsemane, but I feel that Sheppard missed something that people need to hear; that their Saviour knows the hurt, the grating feeling of doing good to people that will abuse that gift. Seeing that explored and put forward for readers to dwell on would have been a powerful thing.
Despite my frustration with how the last third of the book went, Jesus Journey does help shatter some of the “Stained Glass Superhero” imagery that we tend to cast onto Jesus. There were things about Jesus and his humanity that I had not considered or thought of in quite the same way before I read Sheppard’s book. As a 40 day devotional, this is a great work to use and build upon for bible studies and small groups.
I give Trent Sheppard’s Jesus Journey 3 out of 5 stars.