When I describe to friends how I know of Jonathan Martin I typically say, “He’s a pastor I follow on Twitter who’s not an ass.” While “not an ass” may not seem like much of a compliment, it is actually a rare distinction. Many Christian leaders, despite what they may intend, just come off as total jerks on social media. I find it to be so common that when I see a person who doesn’t fall into that category, I take notice.
As I saw that his tweets and blog posts were consistently theologically deep, critical of the status quo and yet gracious and gentle without fail, I knew that I was encountering something special. When he announced that he was working on a book, there was no question that it would go to the top of my list.
In Prototype, his voice is consistent with everything else I’ve read from him. The book packs a theological punch while remaining deeply personal. I read the entire book in just a couple of sittings – that’s how readable it is. However, as I have been away from it for a few days, I find myself wanting to go back and read more slowly, taking some extra time to digest the things that were especially meaningful for me.
One of those would have to be the chapter on sacrament and what he refers to as the “bodily gospel.” He gives us a glimpse into the scandalous nature of the way that Jesus interacted with the world, and then helps us to feel the significance of a God who cared to touch His creation. The experience of foot-washing brings that connection to life:
“When I feel the touch of human hands on my hairy toes and calloused soles, it is terrible in all the ways it must be for Christ Himself to touch my most unlovely places with His tenderness. Every time, the tears burn my eyes. And as my self-consciousness and self-confidence begin to crumble, it’s not just my feet that are being washed; it’s the love of God like a warm balm on a bruised and battered soul” (160-161)
This was just one of several pictures painted in this chapter that really spoke to deep places in my soul. If I’m being honest, I long for the touch of God and His people and have found that need to be mostly unmet. So when I hear him say that if we’re “going to get anything about Jesus, you can never graduate from the wonder of human touch” something inside me shouts to affirm that.
There is more that I could say, but I’m not going to ruin it for you 🙂 You can read more about the book, including the first chapter here.
(I received a copy of the book through Tyndale and agreed to post a review. I did not promise to review it favorably; the opinions above are entirely my own.)