Reviewed by: Matthew Holst
Man of Sorrows, King of Glory: What the Humiliation and Exaltation of Jesus Mean for Us, by Jonty Rhodes. Crossway, 2021. Paperback, 160 pages, $14.99 (Amazon). Reviewed by OP pastor Matthew Holst.
Jonty Rhodes, a minister in the Independent Presbyterian Church in Leeds, United Kingdom, has written a wonderful little work explaining and applying the work of Christ to the Christian. The format of the book follows much of Phillip Bliss’s 1875 hymn, Man of Sorrows, borrowing chapter headings from lines of the hymn. This has the effect of tying biblical truths to words and ideas we frequently confess in our worship.
The book is in three parts following the incarnation, humiliation, and exaltation of our Lord, thus providing the layman a sound basis to understand the work of Christ. The book starts with the vital question, “What has Jesus done for you?” and seeks to place the cross of Christ at the center of the Christian faith while reminding the reader that both cross and Christ form part of a larger context of redemption, which includes exaltation. This, Rhodes argues, has profound impact upon our worship, preaching, and upon missions.
Chapter 1 introduces Adam’s failed roles as prophet, priest, and king in the garden. However, Rhodes leads the reader to Christ’s prophetic, priestly, and kingly office, and the salvation found in the Messiah—but not the Messiah of mere doctrine, but a true person with whom the Christian has true communion. Chapter 2 deals with the incarnation of our Lord, particularly his two natures, and Rhodes carefully but simply explains the doctrine and its aberrations. Chapter 3 entitled “Bearing Shame and Scoffing Rude” deals with Christ’s humiliation. Chapter 4 expands on Christ’s humiliation in his office of prophet, chapter 5 in his office as priest, and chapter 6 in his office as king. With pleasant symmetry, chapter 7 then deals with Christ’s exaltation, followed by chapters 8–10 reflecting on his exaltation as prophet, priest, and king.
Rhodes is thus providing his reader with an entry level book on Christology. The subtitle of the work is reflected in the chapter divisions, “What the Humiliation and Exaltation of Jesus Mean for Us.” Rhodes, thus, applies his teaching. He argues that we are to be “theologians of the cross” presently taking up our cross rather than seeking might and glory now. But we are also to be Christians of Christ’s exaltation, not just of his cross, thinking in a more rounded fashion of the work of Christ. We are to live under Christ’s lordship not the world’s lordship—”Children belong to parents, not to governments” (149).
The work deals with profound truths in a simple manner. Rhodes does not avoid technical and theological language, but he ably explains it throughout. One of the hallmarks of the book is accessibility—most should be able to understand and spiritually profit from this work. It is clearly written for the average Christian to dive a little deeper into Christ’s work for us and in us. I commend Rhodes’s book to all.
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