This is the fifth blog in a series from Sunderland minister David Whiting, who is currently on sabbatical
‘Following Jesus – Biblical Reflections on Discipleship’ by N T Wright, SPCK, 1994
This book is not a new book it was written by N T Wright when he was Dean of Lichfield and published in 1994. Since that time Tom Wright has been Bishop of Durham and is now a professor in St Andrews.
The book may not be new, but it still provides some interesting Biblical insights about discipleship. Like many books it is made of chapters that were delivered as sermons and addresses with a common underlying theme and which have been collected together in this book.
The book is divided into two parts. The first part was a series of sermons delivered during Lent 1994. There are six chapters each focussing on a book in the New Testament: Hebrews, Colossians, Matthew, John, Mark, Revelation. Tom Wright encourages his readers to read the whole of the book upon which each chapter is based. In the prologue he makes the point that although John may take some time to read as a whole, books like Colossians and Hebrews could be read in less than an hour.
The second part of the book picks up on a number of themes that can be related to the life of the disciple:
- God who raises the dead
- The mind renewed
- Heaven and Power
- New Life – New World
The book throughout is peppered with Biblical insights, anecdotes and illustrations. We are reminded in the chapter concerning the raising of Jesus from the dead that the most frequent command in the Bible is ‘do not be afraid’ (p.56). He links what he writes with concerns about society, and what is interesting is that some of the concerns of the 1990s has resonance now. In the chapter on Hell, Tom Wright comments: ‘We spend billions on smart missiles, and in the same breath we shut hospitals’ (p.82). The sentence made me think of the contemporary debate about trident missiles and concern about the NHS.
In the prologue we get an idea of some of the concerns that motivate Tom Wright, making the point that many of the sermons have been included in the book have been preached in the context of the Eucharist. He writes:
‘Following Jesus, after all, involves heart, mind, soul and strength. A church without sermons will soon have a shrivelled mind, then a wayward heart, next an unquiet soul and finally misguided strength. A church without sacraments will find its strength cut off, its soul undernourished, its heart prey to conflicting emotions, and its mind engaged in increasingly irrelevant intellectual games’ (p.x-xi).
The book is a short book but its is nevertheless worth taking time to read, although no questions are provided at the end of each chapter it could still provide an excellent resource for group study.