St. John's UCC Bible Study


 Jesus I Never Knew 306 

"The Jesus I Never Knew" by Philip Yancey

Meet every Wednesday (except on Council Meeting Night)
    Check website calendar for schedule
6:30 - 8:00pm in Room-107 (Under the Sanctuary)

Everyone is welcome to attend.
We urge participations in the discussions, but it is not a requirement. It is fine if you want to sit and listen.

Don't worry if you are not able to attend all sessions - the sessions aren't cumlative and we can catch you up.  You are free to attend as many or as few of the meetings as your schedule permits.

Philip Yancey helps reveal what two thousand years of history covered up

What happens when a respected Christian journalist decides to put his preconceptions aside and take a long look at the Jesus described in the Gospels? How does the Jesus of the New Testament compare to the new, rediscovered Jesus or even the Jesus we think we know so well?

Philip Yancey offers a new and different perspective on the life of Christ and his work, his teachings, his miracles, his death and resurrection and ultimately, who he was and why he came. From the manger in Bethlehem to the cross in Jerusalem, Yancey presents a complex character who generates questions as well as answers; a disturbing and exhilarating Jesus who wants to radically transform your life and stretch your faith.

The Jesus I Never Knew uncovers a Jesus who is brilliant, creative, challenging, fearless, compassionate, unpredictable, and ultimately satisfying. ’No one who meets Jesus ever stays the same’, says Yancey. ‘Jesus has rocked my own preconceptions and has made me ask hard questions about why those of us who bear his name don t do a better job of following him.’

Contact MaryAnn Roeder for more details at 610-217-0893 or by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Jesus I Never Knew is a work of Christian nonfiction by Philip Yancey. First published in 1995, and nominated for the 1996 ECPA Christian Book Award, the book offers readers a new perspective on Jesus and his teachings. The book received widespread critical acclaim from Christian readers, and critics praise it for encouraging readers to let go of preconceived ideas and examine Jesus in new ways. Yancey is a prolific, award-winning author who specializes in Christian nonfiction. Before working on full-length books, Yancey worked as a journalist for numerous publications, including religious, natural, and historical journals.

In the book, Yancey asks readers to reconsider what they know about Jesus. He suggests that we don’t know Jesus anywhere near as well as we think we do, and that Jesus is far more complex than we can imagine. The book is divided into three main parts: “Who He Was,” “Why He Came,” and “What He Left Behind,” and the narrative moves chronologically from Jesus’s death to his resurrection.

In each section, Yancey focuses on the different questions we have about Jesus and what the scriptures tell us about that issue. The first section, “Who He Was,” considers Jesus’s formative years and the circumstances around his birth. “Why He Came” dissects Jesus’s miracles, his mission, and his resurrection. Finally, “What He Left Behind” looks at Jesus’s legacy and whether Christians are remembering him faithfully. However, the scriptures aren’t the full story, because they leave us with a one-dimensional Jesus. We must also turn to other sources.

The Jesus I Never Knew takes a liberal and secular approach to Jesus. Although Yancey examines the Gospels in detail, he turns to mystic writings, novelists, and even Hollywood films to make his points. Yancey believes that we can learn more about Jesus by looking at how he’s interpreted across artistic mediums, and how he’s celebrated by modern-day Christians, than we can simply by reading biblical texts. What’s important is how Jesus speaks to us and what he makes us feel—not only what the Gospels tell us to think.

Looking at Jesus through various lenses brings him to life and makes him multidimensional. For example, we learn more about what he looked like and how he sounded by looking beyond dry, religious scripture and seeing what Jesus means to every Christian individually. It’s on us to make Jesus once more into a rounded, complex character which is more faithful to the real Jesus than the Gospels alone.

The Jesus I Never Knew argues that, while Jesus visited earth once, he might not come back. Jesus built us a kingdom, and it is up to humanity to maintain this kingdom in his image. Furthermore, Yancey argues that Jesus doesn’t care about homosexuality, and that he simply wants people to be themselves. We all possess free will, and we aren’t controlled by the divine. What’s important is that we meet Jesus and acknowledge his presence in our lives.

Yancey’s Jesus is a cultured and refined man who fits well into our contemporary society. He’s a feminist, a political activist, a man who cares about equality and shuns religious extremism. He isn’t revolutionary or shocking—he’s human, which is what makes him relatable to modern Christians. This is the Jesus who we find when we choose to look for him, and when we choose to appreciate who he really was.

Yancey accepts that scripture portrays Jesus as human. However, he doesn’t believe that the Gospels go far enough in depicting what that humanity really means. To supplement the scripture, Yancey explores specific problems that he believes Jesus endured, such as loneliness and insecurity. He also considers Jesus’s masculinity, and how Jesus shunned gender stereotyping. Breaking down stereotypes is especially relevant in modern society.

Throughout the book, Yancey confronts the typical associations we make with Jesus and Christianity, and he explains why they are wrong. For example, while most Christmas cards paint the nativity scene as peaceful, there was nothing serene or safe about being an unmarried teenage girl carrying an illegitimate child. From the moment of Jesus’s conception, our perceptions of him are wrong. Yancey also considers why troubled people, or sinners, now avoid church when they used to flock to Jesus, and he questions whether the church does enough to promote the true Jesus.

Finally, Yancey questions what we know about God, and God’s love. He asks us to consider why Jesus died, and why God let such intense suffering come to pass. Yancey concludes that power causes suffering. Power and love cannot coexist. God, it seems, is uncomfortable with His own power. That’s why we have free will.

To prove that He loves us too much to wield power over us, God made an example of His own son, Jesus. God chose love when He sent Jesus to Earth. He gave humanity its own kingdom. Jesus also chose love when he submitted to the cross and accepted his crucifixion. God doesn’t expect us to worship Him as all-powerful, Yancey claims. Jesus died to show us that we must always choose love over power, which is what God himself would do.