Sounding the Depths: When Jesus Prays For His People by Michael A. Milton
Some books are big and weighty tomes that carry the weight of the world on their shoulder, others are slender but pack a mighty punch of truth. Sounding the Depths by Dr. Michael Milton is one of those small volumes that are pastorally sensitive, theologically sound, and encouraging at every level. After reading these chapters based upon messages from John 17, you cannot come away without a resounding high view of Jesus and his prayers for the world. With portraits of leaders from church history, biblical commentary, and practical wisdom, Milton brings out fresh meaning from the gospel text that leads us to worship and service.
The first chapter points out to the opening lines of John 17 where Jesus speaks to the Father in connection with glory. Milton makes the point vividly that the love relationship that exists between Father and Son is bound up with the covenant. Milton writes, “Every great love was first be rooted in a covenant relationship. Love without covenant is fleeting, Hollywood-like, without strength to endure.” (14-15) The Trinitarian love between the three persons in the Godhead emanates compassion, fellowship, and unending love. Therefore, it is no surprise that the relationship between the Son of God is uniquely a love relationship, committed to one another. Milton hits on another important point in this chapter by reiterating the fact that the Son of God’s love for you is so deep that took Jesus to the cross, therefore, this compassionate prayer on our behalf should move us to love him greater, resisting evil in the present time (20).
This little book is saturated with the gospel. Milton writes, “The truth of the gospel is that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. The truth of the gospel is that our broken spirits and vulnerability, coming out of our own awareness of our sin condition, opens the door of God’s strength in Jesus Christ. And likewise, this truth is what keeps us. Knowing Jesus and His grace saves us and seals us.” (31) Hanging onto Romans 5:8 while focusing on the power of Jesus Christ, the gospel penetrates to the most wretched of sinners. Notice here that Milton indicates that our brokenness is not which keeps us away from the gospel but the thing that drives us toward Christ. Knowing Jesus involves both a mental recognition of truth but also a experiential reality in the life of every believer, longing to know Christ and make him known in all the earth.
Near the end of the book, Milton comes through with a key truth that is worth repeating; namely that “There will never be a truly successful man or woman, a truly great person, unless that person gives his life away for others.” (71) Humility comes in many different shapes but at the baseline it involves a delight in the good of others for the sake of Jesus. We have to go no further than looking at Jesus, who modeled perfect humility to the point of death, even death on cross. Milton does a great job throughout this book at identifying key teachings in the gospel and following them up with insightful questions related to the reader’s walk of faith.
Much thanks for this book goes to EP Books and Cross Focused Reviews for this review copy in exchange for an honest review.