About This Study - A Few Words from John Ortberg

    I am continually drawn to this person Jesus. The more I learn about him—who he was, the way he lived, what he taught—the deeper my admiration for him becomes.
    From complete obscurity, Jesus came to public attention for the blink of an eye—maybe three years, maybe as few as one. When he died, his tiny failed movement appeared clearly at an end. But Jesus' impact was greater a hundred years after his death than during his life; it was greater still after five hundred years; and after two thousand years he has more followers in more places than ever.
    The complexity, depth, and power of his life are unique and unprecedented. In some ways, our biggest challenge in gauging his influence is that we take for granted the ways in which the world has been shaped by him. As you will soon discover, his vision of life has impacted the development of everything from art and science to government, medicine, and education.
    Just as amazing as his impact on the world at large is the revolutionary way he treated individual human beings. When you consider the limitations and prejudices of the ancient world, you realize how remarkable it is that Jesus transcends them all. He treasured children, honored women, and had compassion on the suffering—none of whom were esteemed in his culture. Values we admire today such as humility and forgiveness were scorned and considered weaknesses in the ancient world. In Jesus' day, everyone knew the gods favored the rich and powerful—it was unthinkable that every human being was loved equally by God and therefore should be treated with dignity. But Jesus doesn't take a wrong step. His life and message are as relevant and challenging today as they were more than two thousand years ago.
    How is this possible? Who is this man?
    Whatever you know or think about Jesus, I invite you to take the steps you need to take to know him better. Rearrange your life if you have to. Getting to know any person well is a wonderful thing. Getting to know Jesus better is immensely rewarding-and almost always life changing. If you consider yourself a stranger to Jesus, I invite you to become his acquaintance. As you get to know him better, chances are good you will become an admirer—and admirers of Jesus have a natural tendency to become followers of Jesus. If you consider yourself a follower of Jesus already, I invite you to set aside your assumptions and look at Jesus as if you did not know anything about him. You might be surprised at what you discover.
    This is a challenging study. It's about what matters most in life and in history, and how deeply those things are connected to our everyday lives. Don't settle for being a passive spectator. Take the risk of active engagement; wrestle with questions; open yourself to new ideas. Every investment you make—of time, energy, critical thinking, and personal vulnerability—will be well worth the effort. That's a promise—one I can make from personal experience.
    My hope and prayer is that you not only come to know Jesus much, much better, but that your heart will beat faster with joy, gratitude, and awe that such a life got lived in this world. And in the process, I pray you will discover in Jesus a deeper understanding of the possibilities and significance of your own life.
                                                                                                                  — John Ortberg