We all know who Jesus is--or think we do. We see children flock to him and gentle wisdom lovingly pour from him. We see the kindest man in the world. But these pictures are deceptively familiar.
In the Gospels Jesus says and does many puzzling things--like shriveling a fig tree or telling followers to keep his miracles a secret. He is hard on his opponents, the Pharisees, but also makes extreme demands on his followers--like urging them to be as perfect as the Father in heaven.
Tim Stafford, informed by acclaimed New Testament scholars such as N. T. Wright, takes us behind such two-dimensional images by unearthing the specific historical and cultural situation of Jesus' day. What Jesus said about the kingdom of God, about sin, about Satan, about prayers, about the temple, about Israel and the people of God, were all profoundly affected by his being a Jew in a land dominated by the ancient Romans. In fact, through his message and actions he meant to change things far more profoundly in his day and ours than we can ever imagine.