Once upon a time there was a gifted young scholar whose star was rising in the academic world. The young man had gone to premier schools, and he had even traveled to Germany to pursue a doctorate in the fatherland. He studied with the finest scholars, and his work was of the finest quality. His dissertation was published in a prestigious academic series. He landed a teaching job. He began to churn out scholarly books and articles.
And then something happened. That young scholar became more and more convinced that teaching the truths he was trading in was not enough. Such things had to be proclaimed, heralded, exposited. He had to preach.
So the rising young evangelical scholar who had written his dissertation in the field of New Testament, specializing in Jesus studies, left the lectern for the pulpit. He took his precise, academic training and sought to apply it to non-academic Christians.
For nearly thirty years his soul was refined by the Bible, the afflictions of life, the pains of the pastorate. For nearly thirty years he labored for language that would convince the mind and compel the heart. For nearly thirty years he preached and prayed, read and wrote, wept and rejoiced as a shepherd of the flock of God, in which the Holy Spirit had appointed him an overseer.
For nearly thirty years academic scholarship on Jesus continued to be produced. Learned and precise it was, but not always connected to the reality about Jesus. Quagmired in discussions of which Gospel was written first, which saying of Jesus was authentic, how and whether the Gospels can be shown to be historically reliable, and how Jesus really subverts or supports some modern political agenda, academic scholarship on Jesus often seems to miss the Messiah altogether. For nearly thirty years non-academic writing about Jesus continued as well, and in most cases it wasn’t any better. These non-academic books were intended to be devotional, but often they were painfully ignorant of historical realities, resulting in a distorted, modern, sentimental, not very Jewish and not very helpful portrait of Jesus.
The brilliant young scholar is now an aged pastor, and in him are conjoined the sensibilities of the historian and the wisdom of one who has been with the sheep. John Piper has given us a book on Jesus.
I urge you to buy and read What Jesus Demands from the World.