I started this book when I was preaching through Jonah last summer. I made it about halfway through, and it sat (as books sometimes do) unfinished on my night stand for about 6 months. Over the Christmas holiday I picked it up again, and found that the second half of the book was probably my favorite part.
Surprised by Grace is split into three sections, but functionally breaks down into two. The first two sections are commentary on the book of Jonah, verse by verse through the text. These initial five chapters give keen insight into this enigmatic little prophetic biography. It is interesting that Jonah stands alone in the prophetical books as a book focused on the prophet himself, rather than his message. The prophet’s life is the message. Tchividjian does a good job of bringing out practical application and convicting content as he paints the Jonah portrait alongside the implications for the reader’s life. He also gives cool insight and illustration, bringing in historical art pieces (which are on display in a 14-page section in the middle of the book) that were painted or sculpted with Jonah’s story in mind.
The final section is the part I really enjoyed. After getting familiar with the Jonah story and its application to the reader’s life, Tchividjian ends the book with the “big picture” of how Jonah relates to and displays the gospel of Jesus Christ and the grand redemptive narrative that God is writing through history and revelation. He hits several hot topics in this final section; grace vs. works, justification and sanctification, true worship, the true nature of the gospel, the glory of God in the life of Jonah, and how God’s character and word are revealed in the text.
I highly recommend this book. I think you’ll enjoy it as I did. It is a mixture of biblical commentary and practical wisdom that is applicable to everyday life.