The description on the back cover lured me in. The first two sentences read, "In the ultimate act of sacrifice, Jesus robbed the Enemy of every claim he ever had on our lives. He stole all our shame and guilt and gave us back our lives so that we could live in true freedom." I am my own harshest critic and I tend to get myself bound up in unnecessary amounts of guilt at times. I have read books on grace that were Biblically sound and refreshing reminders of my identity in Christ. I hoped this book would have a similar, uplifting effect and would help me train my line of thinking to give myself grace since Christ extends it to me.
Unfortunately, I found this book very difficult to finish. In the first few chapters, I found the tale of an actual criminal heist interwoven into the authors commentary and retelling of Bible passages to pique enough of my curiosity to keep me reading. By about 1/3 of the way through the book, it was challenging for me to continue to reading this author's writing style.
"I wonder what life was like in the prodigal son's home before he ran away. Were the brothers constantly fighting, as brothers often do? Was the younger brother tired of always playing second fiddle to an older, more responsible brother? Did he grow up hearing, "Why can't you be more like your brother?" Living in the shadow of a smarter older brother would have been tough. Is that what caused him to want to leave his house so badly? Or did he think he was missing out on something? Was he comparing his life to what the guys down the street were doing? Did he start believing the lies? Perhaps he had been counting the days until he could collect his inheritance and be done with both his father and his brother, and he just got tired of waiting." (pgs 53-54)
In another location, Durso makes a claim that I feel was poorly stated in the least. Pondering the fact that Mark 15:44 states Pilate was surprised to hear Jesus was already dead, he writes the following [emphasis mine]:
"I was confused by Pilate's astonishment, so I did some research to help me understand what he was reacting to. As I dug through commentaries, reading the historic facts noted by different theologians and scholars of the Word, I found out that in those days the cross was not necessarily intended to kill people. We might see the cross as a means to death because we know the cross as the place where Jesus ultimately met His death, but that wasn't the original intention of the cross. The purpose of the cross was to humiliate the very worst criminals."
On page 161, Durso claims that at the time of Lazarus's death, Mary (Martha's sister) was an unbeliever. I am hesitant to agree with this claim for several reasons, but I'll let you read the author's words in one final quotation so you can make your own decision:
"Technically, at this point, Mary too was an unbeliever. Jesus had told Martha that Lazarus would rise again, but she thought He was telling her about the distant future. Could this be why when Jesus finally arrived at the tomb, He wept (see verse 35)? Jesus wanted these sisters to know that Lazarus would live again. he wanted them to believer His word. Jess didn't cry because He was grieving over Lazarus. He was crying because they didn't recognize fully who He was and didn't trust that His word wouldn't return void (see Isaiah 55:11)."
**In the interest of full-disclosure, I received this book courtesy of Blogging for Books for the purpose of reviewing. I am not obligated to give a positive review, my opinions shared are genuine.