Book Review, Following Jesus, The Servant King

The stereotype of a servant is someone with little social standing and no juice. The stereotype of a king is someone operating at the highest levels of society able to bring to life his every whim. Those two identities could not be more opposed, yet they are both fully realized in Jesus, our Servant King. Jonathan Lunde’s book Following Jesus, The Servant King presents a comprehensive view of Jesus’ call to discipleship in light of what He has accomplished as both a Servant and as a King. Lunde goes to great lengths to present a biblically-faithful depiction of discipleship rooted in the Old Testament covenants and extending into the New Covenant inaugurated by Jesus. This meaty tome is a valuable guide for all who seek to faithfully follow Jesus. 

Structure of the Book

Lunde structures this book around three discipleship questions

  • Why should I be concerned to obey all of Jesus’ commands if I have been saved by grace?
  • What is it that Jesus demands of his disciples?
  • How can the disciple obey Jesus high demand, while experiencing his “yoke” as “light” and “easy”?

Each of these questions is examined in light of covenantal truths, covenantal demands, and fulfillment in Christ. While having a clearly laid out structure is good, I did find myself referring often to the introduction of the book to refresh my memory on specifics of the questions

Another helpful aspect of the book were the reflection questions present at the end of each chapter. This book would be an ideal resource for discussion in community and these questions are a helpful starting point for in-depth reflection on each chapter.

What stood out to me

Most evangelicals have passing familiarity with covenants, particularly in the Old Testament. The depth with which this book engaged the OT covenants was particularly helpful to me. Examining the Abrahamic, Noahic, and Davidic covenants in light of discipleship to Jesus helped to make clear the thread of Christ throughout the entire Bible.

Lunde makes clear that while Christ’s righteousness has been imputed to us, the call to righteousness and faithfulness has not been lightened, but heightened. This stands in start contrast to many authors and churches who seem content to minimize the biblical calls to holiness in light of “receiving grace.” Our position as the covenant people of God should make us even more committed to honoring Him through obedience and devotion.

On on a more micro level, this book has a number of insights that I had never thought of before, including

  • Jesus demanding the “sort of devotion that only a king has the right to demand” (120)
  • actions on the Sabbath that are “theologically aligned with the truth of God’s provision” are to be celebrated (148)
  • the references to Isaiah 50:4-9 found in Matthew 5: 39-42 (162)
  • the idea that the “least of these” referenced in Matthew 25:34-40 are “those of his (Jesus) disciples who make themselves vulnerable in going forth into the mission of the nations, confidently proclaiming the gospel, compassionately serving the poor, and authoritatively exorcising demons and healing the sick in Jesus’ name” (178)

This book is filled with challenging and insightful thoughts like these and help the book to be not just a valuable reference on discipleship but a tool to reflect on all aspects of Christian life and thought.

My beef with the book

I only really have one critique of this book, and it’s less of a critique and more of a warning. This book is written at a higher reading level than many popular-level Christian books so people should be aware of this. It does take some effort to read but it is well worth it.

Recommended?

Absolutely. You will be challenged, encouraged, and even more amazed at the majesty of Jesus, our Servant King.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received this book free from the publisher.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions I have expressed are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”