The Surprising Saviour Mark Sweetnam

Category: Book Review

Precious Seed


Paperback, 68 pages,
Published by Scripture Teaching Library, Northern Ireland and available from Ards Evangelical Bookshop, Newtownards.
ISBN: 978-1-909789-56-2.

This book is a compilation of the eleven articles that the author wrote for Truth and Tidings magazine, Canada, from 2019 to 2020. They are centred around the single Greek word thaumazo which, as the writer indicates in his introduction, ‘has as its root the idea of a response befitting the manifestation of the supernatural’. 

Chapter 1 takes us through Nicodemus’ reaction to the Saviour’s teaching and His transforming message. Speaking of the familiarity of John chapter 3, Sweetnam makes the telling point, ‘In their familiarity, its words have lost something of their power to surprise us as they ought’. Chapter 2 covers the Lord in the synagogue at Nazareth and how amazement at His gracious words gave way to a murderous rage as the truth of them hit home. Chapter 3 deals with the Lord’s encounter with the woman of Samaria and the reaction of the disciples when they saw the Lord speaking with her at Sychar’s well. The author paints the background with skill and simplicity, establishing the wonder of the Lord’s interest in the spiritual welfare of a Samaritan woman – and one of such dubious reputation. Chapter 4 covers the Sea of Galilee and the calming of the storm. Considering the disciples’ question of the Lord as to His care during the storm, Sweetnam challenges us, ‘we can look back to Calvary, and see there the incontrovertible evidence that He cares’. Chapter 5 considers the Lord’s determination to go to Jerusalem and the response of the disciples as the Saviour taught of events that would follow. Chapter 6 brings us to the Lord’s trial before Pilate summarized by the author’s comment, ‘the Saviour stood silent, and Pilate marvelled’. Chapter 7 reflects upon Calvary and the fact that Pilate marvelled that the Lord was dead in so short a time following His crucifixion. Chapter 8 deals with the resurrection and the wonder of the empty tomb. Chapter 9 contemplates the sense of wonder that will be expressed when the Lord returns in glory to deliver the nation of Israel and establish His kingdom. Finally, chapter 10 (wrongly labelled chapter 11 in my copy) moves from the Lord to the apostles and the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.

This is a beautifully written book that was a pleasure to read. Even familiar passages were brought to life conveying something of the sense of wonder that the book is all about. It may be short, but it is choice material that is worth reading and re-reading that we all might develop a truer sense of wonder and worship of the One who is its central theme.