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The One Jesus Loves [Book Review] by Robert Crosby (Thomas Nelson2014)


I chose to read this book because I love the grace of God and good books about God’s grace. The book’s title intrigued me: The One Jesus Loves: Grace is Unconditionally Given, Intimacy Must Be Relentlessly Pursued.

I love the title. The book, however, seems to take portions of the Bible and make application without careful attention to the larger context in which the passage rests. Two examples are enough to illustrate:


  1. The book builds a case that James’ and John’s mother came to Jesus with a bold request she desperately wanted—her boys to sit at Jesus’ right and left in His kingdom. (The inner circle.) But when we compare the gospel of Mark to the Matthew account, we learn that James and John actually were the ones making the request; they simply got their mother to do the asking (Mark 10:35). The question Jesus asked James and John, “What do you want me to do for you?” He also asked to blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10:51). The question to blind Bart is meant to draw a vivid contrast against the vainglorious request of the Sons of Thunder. The Bible doesn’t present James’ and John’s (and their mother’s) request as a model for asking God for something. On the contrary, its self-centered focus on glory contrasts the blind man’s request for mercy—which is the better request.
  2. The application for the feeding of the 5000 compares Christians to the bread Jesus multiplied, using the pattern: “He takes us. He breaks us. He blesses us. He uses us.” While there may be some truth to these principles, this isn’t the primarily lesson Jesus’ miracle is supposed to teach—if at all. The feeding of the 5000 comes at the point in Jesus’ ministry where He trains the 12 how to do ministry in the upcoming age of the church. The lesson of the loaves is that you will never have enough, but when we bring what we have to Jesus, He makes it adequate.

Other minor imprecisions exist in the book, such as referring to Israel in Jesus’ day as “Palestine” (a name it wouldn’t officially have for another 100 years). Also Christ instituted the ordinance of Communion at the Last Supper in the Upper Room (Luke 22:19), not—as the book suggests—at the miracle of the feeding of the 5000 (Kindle location 950).

The One Jesus Loves presents nothing unorthodox. And although I really wanted to like it, I would be dishonest if I sidestepped these problems in review. It could have done a better job of considering the context in its support of how the Bible teaches the helpful truths the book offers.