“Who is Jesus Christ? Unlocking the Mystery in the Gospel of Matthew” by Eric Sammons is one of the best books that I’ve read in a very long time. At the moment I’m alternating between not letting my copy, which I’ve just finished but already want to read again, out of my sight, and thinking of people who I know who would really enjoy reading it.
The book is a careful study of Jesus Christ, as seen through the names that he is called in the Gospel of Matthew. Each name is the subject of a chapter. The chapters are further divided into five sections so that the book flows naturally from title to title. The first section, “Incomplete Perceptions” includes the chapters: Man, Rabbi, Ghost, Carpenter’s Son, John the Baptist, Elijah, and Jeremiah. The next section “Roles” is made up of King of Jews, Prophet, Lord of the Sabbath, King of Israel, Teacher, Christ and Lord. This is followed by Old Testament Prophecies and Figures: Nazarene, Shepherd, Physician, Bridegroom, and Emmanuel. The forth section titled simply “Son” includes the many ways Jesus was addressed that included that same name: Son of Abraham, Son of David, Son of Man, Son of God and “My Beloved Son.” Lastly Sammons looks at the name given to Joseph by an angel: Jesus.
While I read it chapter by chapter, absorbing the amazing insight that each name reveals, I am certain I will learn even more when I read it again (there’s just so much information and insight!). Paul has spent the past weeks looking up when I interrupted him from whatever paper he was working on to share one insight or another that had never even occurred to me. From the question “did you know that only one person in the book of Matthew calls Jesus “Rabbi?” (Do you know who it is? The same person uses it two times!) to a long discussion we had last night after I read the chapter “Emmanuel” and this quote :
“In the Garden of Eden, humanity enjoyed complete familiarity with God, a closeness that was destroyed when man attempted to be “like God” (Gen 3:5). But in a most wondrous irony, God’s plan of salvation now brings about the very thing that man sinfully desired: the elevation of humanity to his divine likeness. God is not simply restoring humanity to Adam’s original blessed state; he is allowing it, through union with him, to be transformed into his likeness. Like iron in a furnace that begins to take upon itself the characteristics of fire, man’s union with God transforms man into the divine image.”
Sammons book helps us to take a closer look at our Savior and leads us learn something about Him that we had (very likely) missed when reading the Gospel through on our own. Familiar verses take on new life when the actual meaning of the names, which I had read on my own many times over the years, are studied within the context of the Gospel.
As you can probably guess, I would strongly recommend this book for anyone! From Mom’s like me to theology students like my husband you are bound to learn something new about our Lord and Savior as he is revealed in the Gospel of Matthew.
I hope there are three more books like this one based on the other Gospels being written!