Book Review: The Jesus You Can’t Ignore by John MacArthur

Title: The Jesus You Can’t Ignore: What You Must Learn from the Bold Confrontations of Christ
Author: John MacArthur
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (2009)

Who is Jesus Christ? Just about everyone has a different answer to this question. Some see Him as a great moral teacher and ultimately a really nice guy. “Gentle Jesus, meek & mild.” A Jesus who is, ultimately, easy to ignore.

But is that the Jesus of the Bible? According to pastor and author John MacArthur, the answer is an emphatic “no.”

And in The Jesus You Can’t Ignore: What You Must Learn from the Bold Confrontations of Christ, MacArthur carefully examines the Scriptures to show readers the powerful and provocative character of Jesus of Nazareth.

As MacArthur leads his audience through a study of Jesus’ interactions with the Pharisees and Sadducees, he reveals that every encounter was antagonistic—and instigated by Jesus Himself. So opposed was He to false religion, that, writes MacArthur, “[b]y today’s standards, Jesus’ words about the Pharisees and His treatment of them are breathtakingly severe.” (p. 21)

MacArthur’s examination of Jesus’ encounters with the religious leaders of His day bring to light the author’s concern about the state of modern evangelicalism—that we’ve confused niceness for godliness, which has resulted in an anemic faith that has sacrificed a willingness to earnestly contend for the Truth for a willingness to accommodate virtually any and all viewpoints or perspectives, no matter how contrary they might be to biblical Christianity. As MacArthur writes:

The problem is that the needed reformation within evangelicalism won’t occur at all if false ideas that undermine our core theological convictions cannot be openly attacked and excluded. (p. 17)

This does not mean that we are to be petulant in our response or to be intentionally antagonistic. As the author himself notes, “generally speaking, avoiding conflicts is a good idea. . . . Gentleness, a soft answer, and a kind word usually go farther than an argument or a rebuke.”

He continues:

But those qualifying words are vital: usually, ordinarily, generally. Avoiding conflict is not always the right thing. Sometimes it is downright sinful. . . . Even the kindest, gentlest shepherd sometimes needs to throw rocks at the wolves who come in sheep’s clothing. (p. 19)

These are not popular things to say, and even less popular to do—but there is no excuse for us to not vigorously defend the Truth and MacArthur has shown himself to be quite willing to say things that need to be said to varying degrees of success.

Where I found his previous book, The Truth War, sometimes went too far in its assertions (particularly due to the use of a number of straw man arguments), The Jesus You Can’t Ignoreis clear, focused, thoughtful and powerful. More often than not, MacArthur is simply allowing the Scriptures to speak for themselves.

That, truly, is what MacArthur does best, both in his preaching and his writing. He knows the power and authority of Scripture; and his desire is to allow the Bible to speak for itself through careful exposition.

Jesus You Can’t Ignore is a brilliantly executed study of the character of Jesus that reveals to readers just how powerful and provocative He truly is. He is no domesticated, meek-and-mild Savior. As MacArthur notes, “Jesus’ sermons usually featured hard truths, harsh words, and high-octane controversy. . . . No preacher has ever been more bold, prophetic, or provocative. . . . [N]o one who listened to Him preach for very long could possibly remain unchanged or apathetic.” (p. 162)

Jesus was absolutely zealous about true worship of the Father. He was passionate. He was bold. And He wants His followers to be as well.

Read the book and (re)discover the Jesus you can’t ignore.

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  • http://www.hillsbiblechurch.org/ Don

    Aaron, you’ve got to stop doing this. My book budget is a way over. LOL. ;)

    • http://hardwords.wordpress.com Aaron Armstrong

      I guess that’s a good problem to have, right? :)

  • Keystone

    I picked up this book at our local library on Monday, and was surprised to see the review here on Tuesday.
    By that time, the book was half read by me, and finished by Tuesday eve.

    The review is spot on; the book is even better.
    Stop by your local library and check it out…….literally. :)

    • http://hardwords.wordpress.com Aaron Armstrong

      That’s awesome! I’m glad you enjoyed the book. Out of all the books of MacArthur’s I’ve read so far, it’s probably the best (that said, I have two on my to read shelf, The Gospel According to Jesus and Ashamed of the Gospel).