Saturday, May 1, 2010

What Jesus demands from the world

What Jesus Demands from the World What Jesus Demands from the World by John Piper

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is one of my favourite Piper books. In it he catalogues 50 of the radical demands Jesus makes of the world. His aim is to investigate “the meaning and motivation of Jesus’ commands in connection with his person and work” (p.19). The demands Jesus makes of us are impossible for us to meet. For this reason Piper starts with the “gentler” commands (p.25). Obedience to these foundational commands enables and empowers obedience to the harder ones. As always with Piper, obedience to Christ is not to be driven by duty but by delight. If we understand Jesus aright, “his demands will not feel severe but sweet” (p.24).

Some things I found helpful:
• Piper offers a definition of the gospel that works for both Jesus and Paul: “The gospel—the good news—is that the rule of God has arrived in Jesus to save sinners before the kingdom arrives at his second coming in judgment” (p.43).
• In the context of John’s gospel, to abide in Jesus is to trust in Jesus’ love and to trust in his word. And if we don’t abide in his word, we are not his disciples.

At times Piper seems to exegete so independently that he doesn’t consult the secondary literature. This can have refreshing and tiring results. An example of the latter is a lengthy discussion on what Jesus means by the good eye and the bad eye in Matthew 6.22-23. The explanation we are eventually brought to seems long and dubious. It would have been better to explain that a “good” (literally, “single”) eye meant a generous eye while a “bad” eye could mean either a diseased or stingy eye (see The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament by Keener).

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