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The Chosen: And I Will Give You Rest

The Chosen book 3


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Book Review

To the Pharisees, He’s a blasphemer. The Roman authorities see in Him a threat to their rule. But to the masses, this Jesus is a miraculous healer and a profound teacher.

Plot Summary

Those who knew Jesus of Nazareth, before all the strange things began happening, knew Him as the son of a carpenter. He was kind. Not such a great athlete, but willing to join in. But certainly, He was no miracle man.

So the idea that He was suddenly imbued with the ability to miraculously heal and do things like turning water into fine wine was a shock. And almost equally shocking was His ability to now teach of the Scriptures and speak with incredible insight and authority.

Those who didn’t know Him beforehand were simply mesmerized.  Those who did were perplexed.

And some were downright worried. Even furious.

Jesus’ miracles and words—spoken as if with authority from the heavenly Father—were seen by the Jewish Pharisees and Sadducees as nothing short of blasphemy. The ruling Romans saw the crowds of people gathering to hear Him, and they had an opinion about this Jesus person, too.

He could be a threat, they reasoned. After all, these Israelites were trouble enough with their religious rules and their hard-headed ways. The Romans certainly didn’t want any more rabble rousers stirring things up. The Jews’ own leader, Herod Antipas, had already locked up some wild man named John for pretty much the same thing.

But the truth was, no one knew exactly who this Jesus person was. Even his students, those followers who helped spread His message, weren’t all completely sure what Jesus intended to do.

Yes, Jesus’ followers knew that His power came from God; that was evident. But what exactly were his plans? What did He hope to achieve?

The answer to that question, however, was just beginning to take shape. And everyone involved would soon see a shocking truth.

Christian Beliefs

This book—the third in The Chosen series—is a novelization of large chunks of the four biblical Gospels. Jesus’ ministry is in full swing, and not only is He performing miracles and speaking to the masses, He’s preparing his disciples to go out and speak God’s truth to both Jews and Gentiles. (The disciples are sent out, in pairs, to teach from the Jewish Torah and perform miraculous healings.)

Along the way we also read about a number of Jesus’ miracles and physical healings, such as the healing of a woman who bled for 12 years, and the feeding of the 5,000. We also hear Him teaching about God’s laws, desires and love. He speaks of the great things that faith the size of a mere mustard seed could accomplish.

The largest impact of this novelization, however, is its ability to present biblical characters as fully realized people with desires, hopes, dreams and daily lives. We see Jesus’ words and actions through that lens, and it gives new depth to the miraculous stories we already know.

The tale begins not long after Jesus has gathered his disciples and proceeds through to Matthew’s depiction of Jesus walking across the Sea of Galilee to calm His desperate disciples. Old Testament (Torah) Scriptures are read and recited.

Other Belief Systems

Someone muses over something “in the name of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva,” Roman gods. Someone else mentions the Greek god Zeus.

Authority Roles

This book introduces and follows at least 20 different characters. And in the beginning, it’s hard to keep up with them all. But with time, author Jerry Jenkins dramatically weaves that large group of individuals together, and we see how they connect with each other in the tapestry of God’s larger plan. We see their various strengths and weaknesses.

Simon and his wife, Eden, for example, are two people more fully detailed than what we see in the Bible. They rejoice over Simon’s call by Jesus, but they struggle with the strain that responsibility causes. Their story is speculative, but it helps us connect with the emotional side of their devotion to God and their love for each other. (Illustrating that devotion involves sacrifice.)

The Pharisees and other religious leaders see nearly all of Jesus’ choices, from His healing on the Sabbath to sharing a meal with a non-Jewish Gentile, as utterly blasphemous and worthy of death. In fact, while Jesus visits his hometown, the local Rabbi becomes so enraged by His words that he demands, by the Law of Moses, that Jesus be thrown from a nearby high cliff. (Jesus, however, walks away unharmed.)

On the other hand, the Pharisee, Yussif, is swayed by Jesus’ words and wrestles with the truth set before him. In the midst of his thoughts and studies, he ministers to an emotionally wounded Eden by speaking of the redeeming love and grace of God.

We also meet several Roman overseers, from officials to soldiers, who each wrestle with their impressions of the person of Jesus. We’re also introduced to people impacted by the spiritual happenings around Jesus. The disciple Matthew, for instance, is completely rejected and disowned when he takes on the role of Roman tax collector. But after Matthew begins following Jesus, Matthew’s father humbles himself and asks his son for forgiveness for his formerly harsh treatment.

Profanity & Violence

People drink wine with meals.

It’s apparent that Jews tend to be fearful of the heavy-handed rule of their Roman overlords. Matthew, as a Jewish tax collector for the Romans, is scared of being attacked by other Jews. While in that job he travels with a Roman soldier as guard.

There are also a few lightly perilous situations scattered in the story. The most prominent is a huge storm that hits the disciples as they try to row across the Sea of Galilee. As the storm rages, their boat begins to flounder and the men fear for their lives. Simon also finds himself nearly drowning at one point.

Simon and Eden also suffer a miscarriage and struggle through the grief of that moment, especially in light of what they see as Jesus’ lack of care. (Jesus later addresses their loss and how God uses such traumatic difficulties.)

Jesus’ follower Zebedee is concerned that his former zealot order wants him dead. He discusses the possibility with another man.

Sexual Content

There are some lightly veiled references to Simon and Eden’s physical attraction to each other and their intimate moments together. (Nothing is fully described.)

Discussion Topics

Does this style of telling the story of Jesus and His disciples make the biblical story easier to understand? What do you think it was like for someone in that time to see those miraculous things taking place? How would you have reacted?

There are some in this story who reject the idea that Jesus could possibly have been God’s messenger. Or for that matter, His Son. And there are some who reject it to this day. Does this book make it easier to understand their point of view, and in turn talk to them about their doubts?

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Additional Comments

Author Jerry B. Jenkins does a compelling job of drawing us into the stories of the people around Jesus.

He also uses some fairly modern-sounding language at times in his dialogue, which some might find discomforting (sounding much more like the contemporary language of The Message than New American Standard.) And some will be troubled by the book filling in some blanks left by Scripture. However, the speculative dramatization on hand could be inviting for younger readers.

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not necessarily their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book’s review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Review by Bob Hoose