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by Joseph F. Girzone
Published by Scribner Paperback Fiction, 1995





What would happen if Jesus lived in your town? Would you recognize Him? Would your pastor recognize Him? How would He be treated? Would it change the way you live your life?

This book offers some interesting answers to these questions as it tells the story of a simple wood-carver named Joshua. The life of Jesus is transported into the twentieth century to reveal some of the illusions we have of our own perfection and to show us that we might not know Jesus as well as we think. Modern Pharisees find fault with Joshua's message of the freedom of the human spirit to love and worship God, but those who "need a physician" embrace the love and grace he offers.

As Joshua develops relationships with various people in the community, we are allowed to see how these people react to Joshua's message. At the same time, we are challenged to ask ourselves how we would respond to such a man. Would we respond with love and acceptance, as the prostitutes and tax collectors accepted Jesus in His day? Or would we respond as the Pharisees did then, and as the modern religious leaders do in this story?

Unfortunately, Joshua is portrayed as a liberal Christian, which may cause conservative Christians to reject the entire message of this book. Both liberals and conservatives miss the mark with regard to the Christian responsibility toward the law. Conservatives tend to be legalistic and say that every Christian must obey the whole law. Liberals recognize the impossibility of this and simply ask that everyone make their best effort at doing what they believe is right. Both advocate trying to do "good works" according to one's own strength and effort. Jesus offered Himself as not only the righteousness we need but also the strength in which to act in accordance to that righteousness.

Fortunately, the bias is not very prominent in this book. A couple of pages here and there deal with this mindset, but the majority of the book is very reflective of the behavior Jesus exhibited in the gospels. It is Joshua's character and relationships with God and other people that are on display in this story. I only hope that this central message is not ignored or rejected because of theological differences a reader may have with the author. We all ought to desire to exhibit a character so like that of Jesus that people will be inspired to seek God.