Meditating on the Words of Jesus

Jesus of Nazareth only lived to be about 33 years of age, and spent only three years in the public eye. In those three years, Jesus never wrote anything down that has survived. I think that was an intentional part of God’s providence. The only reliable source we have to know any thing that Jesus said or did is found in the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The Gospel writers went to great lengths to preserve the record we now have in each of their accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry.

The material provided in the four Gospels is a distillation of Jesus’ earthly ministry and are meant to convey certain aspects of that ministry. In his account, the Apostle John reminds us that “there were many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written […] the world itself could not contain the books that would be written” (John 21:25, ESV). For this reason, it is important to meditate on the words of Jesus that are preserved for us in the writings of the Gospels. An excellent resource for this purpose is Adam Ramsey’s new book Truly, Truly, I Say To You: Meditations on the Words of Jesus from the Gospel of John (The Good Book Company, 2023). 

The words “Truly, truly, I say to you” spoken by Jesus, are some of the most recognizable in the entire New Testament. They beckon the reader to pay close attention to what Jesus is about to say because it is of utmost importance. Many times, these statements from Jesus were provocative to the religious leaders of the day. For example in John 8:58 Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am” (ESV). This statement shocked his hearers and some of them even tried to stone him (vs. 59). Yet they provide us with evidence from Jesus that he is more than a mere human being. He is, in fact, God. Even today we must come to grips with such statements from Jesus and we must decide if they make him a liar, a lunatic, or Lord of all creation.

Truly, Truly, I Say To You is an ideal resource for use during Lent, but can used for devotional reading anytime of the year. The 42 devotions guide the reader to meditate on selected readings from the Gospel of John. Each chapter/devotion contains a short meditation on the selected text, a prayer prompt, and portions of sermons by Charles Spurgeon that pertain to the topic at hand. Ramsey does not provide a devotion for some of the most famous passages in the Gospel of John. For example, there are two devotionals on Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus, but neither of them include John 3:16. Additionally, the encounter with the woman at the well is not included as a devotional. Yet many of the most famous passages from John are included. 

The Gospel of John is probably the most well known of the writings in the New Testament. It is often quoted in evangelistic material and used as a booklet to give seekers. For this reason the Gospel of John is familiar to Christians and many non-Christians alike. For believers, it can feel like this material has been taught a thousand times. Truly, Truly, I Say To You provides a refreshment to the soul with familiar surroundings. Ramsey’s pastoral heart comes through on every page.  

Truly, Truly, I Say To You is a great resource as devotional. As mentioned above, it is intended for use as a Lenten devotional, but it could serve as a guide to Bible reading throughout the year. It would also serve well as a small group resource. The selected readings help to stir one’s affections to know Jesus more deeply. They also force the reader to come to grips with the narrow path to which Jesus calls his followers. Additionally, it is always good to sit at the feet of our nineteenth century brother, Charles Spurgeon. His writings, help to refresh the soul and point the reader to Jesus our Good Shepherd.

Photo by RFTG

Editor’s Note: This resource was received by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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