In preparation for an upcoming sermon series on the Book of Jonah I read Tullian Tchividjian’s book “Surprised by Grace: God’s Relentless Pursuit of Rebels”.
Surprised by Grace has a great flow to it and goes through the Book of Jonah chapter by chapter and verse by verse, but it doesn’t read like a traditional commentary. Although there is plenty of explanation of cultural context and words, there is also plenty of application and it reads smooth like a book and not just a reference resource.
Tchividjian emphasizes right from the beginning of the book that the story of Jonah is the story of the gospel, and its message is for both the believer and the unbeliever. I also really appreciate his encouragement that readers of Jonah need to see themselves in this story because we’ve all been there, unchecked heart issues and running from God and His plans and purposes for our lives.
One thing I really loved about the book was a section of full color photo’s of art spanning hundreds of years inspired by the story of Jonah. You could spend a great deal of time simply admiring the art and interpreting the parts of the story that inspired the artists. There are some outstanding visuals that definitely make you think about Jonah in a new way. The stand out piece for me was Phillip Ratner’s sculpture Jonah.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book:
“Running from God keeps you from ‘breathing’ and living the life he intends you to live. You thereby rob other people of the blessing God intends to give them through you, because you’re less than you’re meant to be…” (p. 44).
“Jonah desperately needs an intervention. This storm was God-sent to liberate Jonah from Jonah” (p. 53).
Overall I would say this is a pretty solid book on Jonah. It would be great for personal reading, a small group study, and sermon/Bible study preparation.
This is my first time reading a book written by Tullian Tchividjian and I look forward to reading more from him.