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Book Review: The Man Called Messiah, by Corey Stumne

Have you ever wanted to hit the brakes on a moment, letting it slowly unfold to savor every precious detail? We long for this ability in life’s small moments like vacation, date night, laughter with our children, and a meal between friends. We even go to great lengths to freeze time for weddings and life’s great milestones with professional photographers trained to make each moment look stunning to the last pixel. When we return to those images years later we smile, laugh and even cry. We crave the details of life’s greatest moments.

Wouldn’t you want even more detail when it comes to an event that is even more important? Wouldn’t you want to peer at every aspect of the most life-changing moment in all of history?

The book The Man Called Messiah by Corey Stumne is a slow motion, gritty, and emotive narrative of the betrayal, flogging, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christians are often only accustomed to rushed descriptions of these events delivered on Sunday.

Stumne’s book by comparison is a gut-check of specificity and emotions about the cross and its surrounding narrative.

In order to explore more detail than the biblical account provides, Stumne writes in the category called “biblical fiction.” Biblical fiction takes liberties with the details and sentiment of the biblical story without compromising the main events. In The Man Called Messiah, Stumne has clearly researched thoroughly what we can know for certain in order to greater explore the elements that extend beyond the facts of the narrative.

Stumne tells the story of Jesus’ last days in beautiful language, but that is part of why it makes this particular book hard to review. The unique language and imagery of his work is best experienced firsthand than described by a third party.

To give you a sense of where this book will take you, I’ll just leave you with two of my favorite parts.

First, The trials that Jesus faced before his crucifixion were told in such a way that I felt like I was hearing it for the first time, even as a minister. This gives a fuller picture of the events leading up to the cross than I had considered before. The back and forth between leaders, the uncertainty of the situation jumped off the page.

Second, Stumne’s brief, but brilliant portrayal of God’s entry into the tomb before Jesus’ resurrection gave me long pause. It was a moment in time, that in my opinion certainly happened, but had never crossed my mind.

He writes this in the beginning of chapter 13,

“The Father looked down upon the stone that sealed what would become the most renowned grave in all of history. Inside lay the rotting corpse of The Man, the Father’s promised messiah.

The Father considered the stone. He remembered the day he fashioned the rock and placed it in the earth, fully knowing one day it would be used to seal, in a way, a part of himself in a cold, dark grave. All of creation, including the stone, was good. It was very good. But there was nothing in all of creation that sin hadn’t touched and marred. The Father created the stone for his glory, but it was being used as a symbol of death.

Although the thought sickened the Father, he wouldn’t let the Accuser prevail. The Father’s mission was to redeem and restore everything in creation back to its original condition and purpose, including the stone sealing the grave of his messiah. The Father was about to use the stone for his glory once again in a way that would permanently change the world.” 

What will you experience if you read The Man Called Messiah?

You experience aspects of the story surrounding the cross that you have never considered before. You also experience a crushing, sick feeling in the pit of your stomach as you read the details of the flogging. You feel the emotion of each person as the story of the cross unfolds.

Why read something so emotional, heavy, and graphic in a world that already feels so burdened? When all is considered, The Man Called Messiah isn’t just a retelling of the story of Jesus, but rather it is another way to remember just how much God really loves us. The Man Called Messiah is a way to remember God’s love like a wedding photo, reliving each detail of just how real, intense, and enduring God’s love really is.

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