Monday, February 24

Prototype by Jonathan Martin

“What happens when you discover you’re more like Jesus than you think?”

This is the basis behind prototype. God loves us. God created us. What if Jesus were more than just our savior? What if Jesus is the prototype for humanity, to show us what we should be like? What if we tried to do more than just ‘follow’ him?

Each chapter in Prototype covers a different theme, ranging from  identity, to obscurity to resurrection, to witness. These same themes are also covered in the DVD small group guide, which I also wanted.

Many times in the Old Testament, God refers to human beings as His beloved. But when God called Jesus His beloved, Jesus did something truly remarkable. He believed Him. And He lived every moment of His life fully convinced of his identity.” (page 16)

While the first chapter focuses specifically on identity, it’s a theme carried throughout the book. Who are you in Christ? It is an issue that Martin deals with well, through anecdotes and scripture. This is not necessarily a book for everyone. Those who feel like they have their life together may feel disinterested in much of what Martin feels. But those who are struggling may find hope. I know that not every part resonated with me, but Martin writes with conviction, and I certainly hope his writing can help those who are struggling.

…Jesus’ path to kingship comes wrapped in a very odd strategy indeed: He is the King of kings largely because he lets himself get beat up. He is victorious not despite His scars, but because of them.” (page 93)

One of the strongest chapters in the book is “Wounds.” Martin writes about how Jesus was mocked, beaten, and crucified. What do we make of this, he asks. Our God did not come to earth with a sword in hand. Rather his blood was drawn by his enemies and he was nailed to a cross to die. Of all the chapters in the book, I feel that this one has the most potential to resonate with people.

The chapter that resonated most with me was “Sacraments.”  A large part of its focus is on the humanity of Jesus. While on earth He could be touched. A sick woman could grasp his robe and He healed her, and others. Not only did he heal them, but he touched them. Who would’ve ever thought that they could ever be touched by a god, especially since they were often considered unclean or sinful? Martin also covers Baptism, the washing of feet, and Communion, showing the joining of the spiritual and the physical.

I mentioned earlier that I also had the chance to watch the small group DVD. While it does not always go as deep as the book, it still covers the same themes.  Each segment is 20 minutes long, with a discussion break halfway through. A small guide for the group leader is also included, with suggestions for formatting and questions.

Each segment focuses largely on Martin, as he stands and addresses the camera. He seems earnest and humble, and is quite easy to listen to. As he tells stories or teaches the message he wants to convey, his words are intercut with video illustration and you can hear the passion in his voice. Usually the illustration follows a single character throughout the session, though not every session features the same characters.

On a production standpoint, they videos are well done. Locations are varied, and the illustrating videos have almost a flashback or dreamlike quality. The audio is crisp, and even when the wind is blowing Martin’s hair I never had to strain to hear them. Visually they often reminded me of Rob Bell’s Nooma series.

If you’ve already read Prototype, the content in the video series is redundant, but if you have small group to participate in, I believe that it could prompt strong discussion about the topics. Like the book, I found Sacrament to be my favorite section

Looking over the discussion questions, the effectiveness of this material may vary depending on each group. If you’re group is shy, or has a hard time revealing information about themselves, they may struggle to answer all of the questions. This isn’t to say that people should not stretch themselves, just that not everyone can. A group that enjoys digging into material and that stays focused most of the time may be able to more fully engage the material.

This might also be a good series for those who are new to Christianity. Martin does not deal with the large theological terms, but instead seeks to be understandable by all. I think his honesty, and especially sections such as ‘Wounds and Resurrection’ and ‘Obscurity and Calling’ would resonate with those who have mainly been exposed to the fundamentalist side of Christianity.

4/5 Stars

I received this book free from Tyndale. 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

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