When Jesus says, “Follow me” what does he mean? What is required? In light of Scripture, what does it truly mean to “have a relationship with Jesus”?—a phrase primarily particular to evangelical Christianity, and perhaps vaguely understood.
Jonathan Lunde (PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School), associate professor of biblical and theological studies at Talbot School of Theology of Biola University, in his book, Following Jesus, The Servant King: A Biblical Theology of Covenantal Discipleship, has set out bring clarity to the demands and delights of being a disciple of Christ. He aims to accomplish this task by looking at discipleship by developing/examining a biblical theology of covenant. And, I will say that Lunde’s examination of covenantal discipleship not only makes Following Jesus a bit unique in its approach, but also gives the volume the ability to add greater depth and significance to one’s understanding of discipleship and growth as a disciple of Christ.
Lunde goes full force in his examination of biblical discipleship. After briefly covering Jesus’ call to discipleship, Lunde goes on to answer the “why,” “what,” and “how” questions of discipleship in 3 respective sections. As he moves through these sections he examines the development of the major covenantal relationships that God has had with his people from Eden to the New Covenant. (He does make a distinction in referring to the relationship God had with Adam as “covenant-like.”). In doing so, he acquaints the reader with some theological realities often overlooked in other discipleship studies such as: inaugurated kingdom theology, agreement of Jesus & Paul, and Jesus as “Servant of the Lord”, etc.
Lunde moves through his biblical theology of covenant he emphasizing that God’s gracious provision has always preceded his covenantal relationships with his people. Thus, Lunde demonstrates that God’s faithfulness to his people is seen in that his righteous demands are always made in light of his gracious provision (a la indicative/imperative). The disciple thus grows in the atmosphere of acceptance established through God’s gracious, saving work; his gracious provision culminating then, most clearly, in the person and work of Jesus (the “lens” through which we understand all his covenantal dealings. Many readers will undoubtedly benefit and be encouraged by Lunde’s biblical theology of covenant, especially seeing grace in places where they had perhaps previously missed it (i.e., Eden and the Mosaic Cov’t.).
In terms of books on discipleship this one holds little back in efforts to develop a robust theology of discipleship. While this may be a bit intimidating to some readers, it will by all means be helpful to one’s understanding of the joys and demands of being a disciple of Christ. Overall, Lunde does a good job of building a solid biblical, theological, historical, and practical foundation for growing as a disciple of Christ. Any reader ought to walk away with a clearer understanding of his or her relationship to God, his grace, his loving demands, and the power they’ve been given to grow in holiness. I highly recommend this book.
*A copy of this book was provided by the publisher, at no cost, for the purpose of review. I was not required to give a positive review.