Show Them Jesus is a tour de force of gospel goodness and rich meditations on the person and work of Jesus Christ. Jack boils down to the main issue and solution.
We’ve been dispensing good advice instead of the good news. Eventually, kids will tire of our advice, no matter how it might be. Many will leave the church. Others will live decent, churchy lives but without any fire for Christ. We’ll wonder why they’ve rejected the good news, because we’ve assumed they were well grounded in it. In fact, they never were. Although we told stories of Jesus and his free grace, we watered it down with self-effort—and that’s what they heard. (18)
Also, Jack says, “Today, a frightening number of kids are growing up in churches and Christian homes without ever being captured by the gospel of Jesus” (3). Key word there is captured.
And captured is what sets Show Them Jesus apart. We have a revival of resources on the gospel—some better than others. The ones that excel capture our attention and drive us toward Jesus and deal first with hearts and affections (66-67, 72-73).
Jack succeeds at this in four ways. First, he provides affection grabbing stories that always point back to Jesus. I want to give a few examples to capture your attention.
When the account of Achan is taught at all, it’s usually with the moral point that stealing is wrong. Okay, but that girl [in Sunday school] needed to fear the larger biblical point: that sin destroys life with God. Then she needed the biggest point of all—the theme of the whole Bible: that wherever sin destroys, Jesus heals. (6)
And he explains the story of Esther in light of Jesus pointing out parallels:
- The king of Persia ruled an empire. But King Jesus rules all heaven and earth.
- King Jesus can't be duped by a gift to his treasury. He owns all things and freely shares them with us.
- King Jesus won’t love us for a night, use us for his pleasure, and then let us go. He gives us a costly love that’s faithful forever.
- And King Jesus doesn’t execute all traitors. Every one of us has been unfaithful to him. We’ve plotted against him and deserve to die. But he has gone to the gallows in our place, shedding his blood, impaled at his hands and feet. (85)
Second, each chapter ends with a section that answers questions and provides ideas to capture hearts with Jesus. While the book is primarily geared towards teachers, I found many helpful ideas that I’ve been incorporating into my family’s worship.
Third, Jack removes the fog away from this Jesus-centered approach. It starts with two questions: “(1) What does the passage say is wonderful about what I receive in Jesus? (2) How does this motivate me to live for Jesus?” (41). He shows how there’s wrinkles in these questions and provides concrete examples in different passages of Scripture (102, 113).
Last, he provides a balanced voice—one that’s dead set on Jesus, while also not neglecting the transformative power of the Spirit in the gospel (87-88).
The full good news regarding any of God’s rules is that believers are (1) eternally forgiven for breaking that command and counted righteousness in Jesus, no matter how badly they mess up; (2) made eager to follow that command in gratitude and hope as children of the Father; and (3) made able to follow it by relying on the Holy Spirit’s transforming power. Never skip this good news. Teach it every time you teach God’s command. (116)
That’s a well rounded, full gospel.
I commend Show Them Jesus to you. Easily one of the best books I’ve read this year. A book that was enjoyable, helpful, and captured my heart. I’m confident it will do the same for you.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Mathew B. Sims is the author of A Household Gospel: Fulfilling the Great Commission in Our Homes and a contributor in Make, Mature, Multiply (GCD Books). He completed over forty hours of seminary work at Geneva Reformed Seminary. He also works as the managing editor at Gospel-Centered Discipleship and the assistant editor at CBMW Men’s Channel. He regularly writes for a variety of publications. Mathew offers freelance editing and book formatting.