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The Unexpected Jesus Review by Kendra Fletcher

By Dr. R.C. Sproul
Ligonier Ministries

R.C. Sproul is one of the preeminent theologians of our time. His vast knowledge of Scripture coupled with his logical exegesis is inspiring. A man like Dr. Sproul could potentially be intimidating to the average Joe like myself, and yet when I had the opportunity to hear him speak at a Ligonier conference several years back, I was struck by his ability to explain lofty theological ideas to the layperson. Time after time, as I have read books by Dr. Sproul such as The Holiness of God and Chosen By God, I have been on my knees thanking God for new understanding of His power and love.

The Unexpected Jesus did not disappoint. Again, I found that Dr. Sproul's ability to bring heavy Biblical ideas down to the layperson without compromising the meaning or minimizing the importance of God's Word a blessing.

The Unexpected Jesus is a primer of sorts, examining the question, "Who is Jesus?" The first half of the book explains the Biblical names for Jesus and their meanings, while the second half looks at what the Bible says Jesus did and some of the ways we have benefited from His work.

While not a book one would associate with the home educator per se, The Unexpected Jesus is an excellent quick study for the high schooler who needs to understand more about Christ's redemptive work on the cross and how that affects our worship of Him. In a day when books like The Da Vinci Code are muddying the theological waters (or, more accurately, spewing heretical lies), our students need to have a solid theological foundation and an answer for the skeptics they most certainly will encounter throughout their lives.

The last chapters of the book also explain thoroughly such lofty theological ideas as "propitiation" and "expiation." I had heard those terms my whole life, having been raised in a Christian home, but I never could have explained them to anyone. But Dr. Sproul's explanation is so fluid and accessible, I felt very comfortable with both terms after having read the following:

Two important terms which are used in explaining the atonement are 'propitiation' and 'expiation'. The way to remember the difference is to understand the prefixes: ex usually means 'away from' or 'out of'; pro usually means 'for'.

The word expiation means to remove something, to take it away; in Biblical terms it has to do with taking away guilt by paying a ransom or offering atonement. The act of expiation removes the problem by paying for it, by a penalty, a ransom, or a sacrifice.

Propitiation has to do with the object of the expiation. It has to do with that which brings about a change in God's attitude, whereby sinners are restored to fellowship with Him. There is a sense in which we can speak of God's being appeased, of His anger against sinners being removed.

Don't overlook The Unexpected Jesus for yourself. I was reading the chapter entitled "Jesus Is Lord" several weeks before Easter and was inspired to gather butcher paper, markers, and my children. We all sat together and covered that big piece of paper with all the names of God we could think of. The discussions about God's mercy, grace, love, etc., were priceless. At their ages, most of my children cannot grasp the ideas of "propitiation" and "expiation," but because I had new understanding of their meanings, I was able to impart basic truths about Jesus to my dear ones. That is one of the better reasons we educate our children at home.

Product review by Kendra Fletcher, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, June 2006