Mike Folmer’s A Journey Through The Life of Jesus: A Yearlong Devotional Series of the Gospels is the first of three volumes that explore Christ’s time on earth in chronological order. As such, it could serve as a companion guide to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
This first volume consists of 90 daily reflections based on the Gospel records that lead readers up to the middle of Christ’s ministry, emphasizing his teaching and interactions with the crowds and disciples. Each day’s meditation offers a short perspective that begins with a scripture reference and ends with personal application questions, or “Ponder Points,” as Folmer calls them. (After exploring Matthew 10:24-25, for example, he asks: “How are you becoming more and more like Jesus?”)
The devotional began as a result of Folmer’s graduate studies at Oral Roberts University, and although his sincerity is obvious, Folmer too often simply summarizes the biblical passage and then repackages it in Christian clichés. For instance, in the Christmas story, Folmer writes: “Finding the Baby [sic] in the manger causes the shepherds to praise and glorify God. Additionally, these events cause Mary to ponder them in her heart.” Devotionals are meant to cast new insights on familiar biblical verses, but Folmer offers little readers can’t learn for themselves through the Gospels. In addition, sometimes the language feels stiff or overwritten, detracting from a deeper understanding of the biblical text.
Still, there are moments when readers can gain a new understanding or personal challenge. The author writes that Christ’s birth in the manger, for example, means, “Even from His birth, Jesus could relate with those in society who are downtrodden and rejected.” And Folmer explores Christ’s teaching and sermons over several days, a welcome approach given that such wisdom requires extended consideration.
To be sure, the life of Jesus of Nazareth changed human history. Certainly, Folmer’s book, despite its limitations, can provide daily accountability for remembering that truth.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.