Category Archives: Jesus Christ

After the Gifts Have Been Opened (A Christmas Reflection)

I’ve come to the conclusion that Christmas is unfair.


We’ve spent a lot of energy shopping for the perfect gifts for our children.

Our kids spent a lot of energy thinking about the perfect gifts for themselves.


We spent hundreds of dollars on gifts for our children.

Our kids are about to spend money that they got for Christmas.


For our kids, Christmas has been a wonderful, thrilling time.

For us, Christmas has been a stressful, tiring time.


But we did it joyfully…because we love them.


Yes, I am convinced that Christmas is unfair.


And that’s not so bad, because…


Our Heavenly Father spent a lot of time thinking about us.

We spent a lot of time thinking about ourselves.


Our Heavenly Father offered the perfect gift, His Son, for us.

We offered Him nothing but sin, shame, and brokenness.


Our Heavenly Father ordained His Son’s atoning death for us,

While we pridefully maintained our own innocence.


But He did it joyfully…because He loves us.


(c) Brett A. Maragni, 2013

Book Review: “Jesus is _________________.” by Judah Smith


I’ll be honest. There are four reasons why I wasn’t expecting much out of this book: (1) The title and subtitle. The blank in the title kind of scared me. Does this mean he is going to promote Jesus as whatever you want/need Him to be? And the subtitle? “Find a New Way to Be Human”? I don’t think people need a find a new way to be human; I think people need to be saved! (2) I looked at Judah’s picture on the back and googled his name and saw a couple of other pictures of him and my first impression is that he was one of those “cool” hipster pastors who spent more time contemplating his wardrobe than meditating on God’s truths. (3) Foreword by Bubba Watson, 2012 Masters Champion. I prefer “Foreword by J. I. Packer” if that tells you anything. I tend to roll my eyes at a pro athlete endorsing a book on Christology. (4) Based on the above, and probably throw in a little bit of my impression of the colorful design of the book, and I was fully expecting something shallow and surface-level.

I was wrong. I was completely caught off guard by the power of this book. Sure, there were times when I wished Smith would have provided a little more theological precision and clarity, especially regarding the depravity of man. But that didn’t keep me from drinking in the fresh and clear ways in which Smith communicated the love and grace of God. 1st John 4:16 says, “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.” In this book, Judah Smith has certainly helped train my eye on God’s love for me.

If you are someone who wasn’t ever loved well, or if you were raised in an environment which was legalistic and rigid, filled with rules, or if you simply struggle to believe that God could truly love someone who has sinned so much, I urge you to get this book and soak in it’s refreshing message. Here are some examples of Gospel-centered statements that can help liberate you to enjoy God’s love:

“Even in our darkest moments of sin and self-centeredness, God still loves us.” – p. 46

“Our righteousness doesn’t depend on our present performance but on Jesus’s finished performance.” – p. 68

“God isn’t just willing to forgive sinners – he is passionate about it.” – p. 73

“God is just as pleased with us as he is with his Son.” – p. 76

“If we have faith in Jesus and his work on the cross, then we are as righteous right now as we ever need to be. We can’t add to it, and we can’t take away from it.” – p. 101

These are just a few of the many gems found in “Jesus is ___________.”

BTW, I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

WDJLL – What Did Jesus Look Like?

Ok, so we all know what the Hollywood and Sunday School Jesus look like – pretty much the same white guy with the gentle, endearing smile and the long flowing hair.

Well, forget that image. Three things we are pretty certain are not true about our modern idea of the physical looks of Jesus of Nazareth:

1. Jesus did not have long hair. Otherwise the apostle Paul would have had to qualify his statement to the Corinthian church:

Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him…? – 1 Corinthians 11.14, ESV

2. Jesus was not European white. He was from the ancient mediterranean, which meant that he most likely had dark olive skin.

3. By today’s standards he was not tall nor especially attractive. In fact there was nothing about him physically that would cause him to really stand out from the crowd. Isaiah the prophet said of him:

…he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him… – Isa. 53:2, ESV

From studying skeletal remains from the 1st Century, archaeologists have concluded that the average male of Christ’s time was barely over 5 feet tall (5’1″) and weighed in at about 110 lbs.

For more details, check out Justin Taylor’s fascinating post.