by Jamie Buckingham
© 1991 Servant Publications
Reviewed by: Deborah Maniatty

“If a man dies, will he live again?” This question asked by Job is answered emphatically in Jamie Buckingham’s book, The Nazarene. He says in his introduction, “I’ve written this little book to share with you what I have learned lies ahead. This is a book to help you face life-and death.” His search for truth and his desire to “see life through His eyes to be there on His turf, so I could understand what He meant when He said such things as ‘a city on a hill cannot behid,’” brought the author time and again to the land of Israel where Jesus lived-and died-then rose again. The intimate insights that Jamie Buckingham gleaned as he roamed the places where Jesus walked and taught-sometimes on the very stones where the Savior had stood-are recorded in this very personal devotional for all of us to be touched by. Bringing the reader with him to many particlar locations sharing with us the sights and sounds as he sees and hears them, our guide is able to convey to us the reality of the life of the one called the Nazarene.

Of living here on this earth Jamie exhorts us that “Earth is but a preparation for what is yet to come-God's glorious promised land of heaven. All the more reason we should enjoy our stay and not be anxious-no matter how grim the situation.” He takes us to the river Jordan where he reflects on the persistent course of the river. There Jamie reminds us that “If we pay attention to our source-rather than the barrier-we are always victorious. Keep your eyes on Jesus and nothing can deter you from finishing your course.” The Jordan river can be a raging torrent or a gently flowing stream, yet it overcomes any obstacle to arrive at its destination-the Dead Sea. So also do we have a destination-to die and be found complete in Him.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 1:24)
and “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:38)

And the fruit we are expected to bear is even not of ourselves, butthe work of the Holy Spirit. “In other words,” Jamie says, “if we have received his Spirit, no matter how small and insignificant we may think our lives are, out of us will flow rivers that will bless the uttermost parts of the earth. None of this is our responsibility, but the work of the Spirit.”

As our author traveled across the Holy Land, chronologically following our Savior’s life, he found himself one day in the Upper Room. Here Jesus taught him more about the Servant he chose to follow: “I’ve watched Christians for a long time. I’ve concluded some of them serve because they have to. Jesus, on the other hand, served because he wanted to. John is specific with the record: ‘Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power so he got up from the meal,wrapped a towel around his waist,and began to wash his disciples’ feet.’ Aside from his willingness to go to the cross, nothing gives us any more dramatic picture of the kind of people God wants us to be-a people who serve one another.”

Are we that kind of people? Do we want to be living examples to a lost and dying world, the world that Jesus wept over? Then let us take this exhortation from our brother in Christ, “Be faithful. No matter how small you think your part.”

Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ. (Galations 6:2)

Finally, we arrive with Jamie at the cross of Christ, and the hours leading to Jesus’ crucifixion. His evidence of God’s complete control of every moment and aspect of the situation is compelling indeed. He states “The Romans did not take Jesus’ life. The Jews didn’t do it. Pilate didn’t do it. Judas didn’t do it. Jesus died voluntarily. He laid down his life because he loves us.” In addition to that Jamie recounts the scene where Jesus stood before Pontius Pilate, when Pilate said, “‘Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?’” Our courageous author offers that, “Jesus looked him straight in the eye. ‘You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.’(John 19:10-11) Who does that sound like was in control?"

In conclusion, taking us to the sight of Jesus’ tomb, this Christian brother declares to us the message of hope for all of us. “‘If a man dies, will he live again?’ that early Jew asked. Another Jew answered with more than words. In this place, this garden tomb in Jerusalem, Jesus answered with his life. ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead?’ the angel asked gently. Then he made the proclamation that changed all history. Forever. ‘He is not here. He is risen.’”

“Because He lives, you and I shall live also. He is risen! He is risen indeed.”