In his own words, the purpose of Dane Ortlunds’ latest book, Defiant Grace: The Surprising Message and Mission of Jesus, is to “peel away the accretions of attempts to domesticate Jesus.” The domesticated Jesus offers just enough grace to liberate the sinner and restore his broken relationship with God. This alone would be cause for great celebration, to be sure, but Ortlund points out that if we stop there we will miss a richer understanding of God’s grace just waiting to be unearthed in the four gospels.
From the beginning, Jesus has been anything but predictable. Ortlund highlights four of his stunning surprises. In the book of Matthew, Jesus turned the religious community on its ear by pointing out that “the deepest distinction among human beings is not between the bad and the good, but between those who know they are bad and those who do not.” By exposing the smug moralism in each self-righteous heart, Jesus made level the ground at the cross. “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10). In the book of Mark, Jesus blew the vision of a conquering king out of the water by condescending to the cross; a death reserved for the vilest criminal. In the gospel of Luke, Jesus completely reshaped the notion of who should be included in the kingdom of heaven and who should not by redefining those on the “inside” and those on the “out.” Finally, in the book of John, Jesus shook the contemporary Greek and Jewish conception of God by merging the idea of Creator and creature through the revelation of his own deity; Immanuel -- God with us.
Two thousand years later, Jesus is still shaking things up and Ortlund offers a fresh look that extends us beyond our comfort zone. Whether we are new to the Christian faith or we’ve found a home there years ago, Ortlund challenges us to open our eyes to the wonder of God’s amazing and defiant grace. – Ann Sullivan, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
When God-in-the-flesh showed up twenty centuries ago in Palestine, the religious PhDs rejected him and the prostitutes and social outcasts flocked to him.
Because the open welcome of divine grace that Jesus offered, open to anyone who would simply leave their moral resume at home, is not predictable. It is not safe. It is defiant.
In this book, Dane Ortlund reflects on this defiant grace as it uniquely emerges in reach of the four Gospel accounts. In each Gospel, the message and mission of Jesus is deeply surprising:
Such surprises confound our law-marinated hearts. But the good news that Jesus won with his own blood will not be tamed. This good news is defiant. This book exists to exult in this good news and the scandalous mercy Jesus loves to pour out on needy sinners--on people like you and me.