Sorting through his junk mail, Nick Cominsky almost
accidentally tosses an anonymous letter that comes to his office in
Cincinnati, Ohio. Strangely it is typed and has no return address,
yet it uses Crane paper and a matching envelope. It says, "You are
invited to a dinner with Jesus of Nazareth Milano's Restaurant
Tuesday, March 24 - Eight o'clock."
The invitation stumps Nick because he cannot figure out who could
have possibly sent it. He has no relationship with a church or
interest in anything related to organized religion. When Nick calls
the restaurant, he can't get any answers about the origin of the
invitation. He decides to play it cool and not say anything to
anyone but to show up for the invitation.
When Nick walks into the restaurant, the maitre d' leads him to a
table where a thirty-something man in a blue business suit is
looking over the menu. He introduces himself as Jesus. The
encounter begins a modern-day encounter with Jesus Christ through
the eyes of a skeptic.
The various events of a dinner form the chapters for this short
book, including The Menu, The Appetizer, The Salad, The Main
Course, The Dessert, The Coffee, and the Bill. Each section allows
Nick to question this stranger about some of the key questions
about life, such as pain, faith and doubt.
As in a real spiritual situation, Jesus never pressures Nick but
simply is available and patiently answers his questions throughout
the meal. The book is like eavesdropping on a back and forth
conversation with an unbeliever explaining the reality of Jesus
Here's an example of their conversation:
Nick says, "Just because you claim to be God doesn't mean that
"No. But it does mean that I wasn't just a good religious teacher.
Either I told the truth about who I am, or I lied, or I was insane.
Those are the only real options. Good religious teachers don't
claim to be God."
He looked off across the room, not seeming to focus on anything in
particular. He shook his head almost imperceptibly, then looked
back at me. "People distort the truth because they reject the final
proof I've already given."
"That I rose from the dead."
Step by step Jesus answers Nick's big questions about life. Nick
moves toward becoming a Christian, yet the ending isn't totally
predictable. Hesitant to conclude the evening, Nick wonders if he
will ever have another opportunity with Jesus for dinner. He smiles
and says it depends on Nick. Then Jesus asks Nick to give him the
last business card in his wallet. He scribbles something on the
back and returns the card to Nick saying, "That'll tell you how to
As Nick shakes hands to say goodbye, he notices the scar on his
wrists and reluctantly departs. The card simply says "Revelation
3:20." At home, Nick rummages around for a Bible and turns to the
Scripture. He learns how he can have dinner with Jesus again.
Every fiction story plays the "What if" game, in which the author
sets up a particular character and a trial or problem that
hopefully is resolved through the novel. DINNER WITH A PERFECT
STRANGER, subtitled "An Invitation Worth Considering," has the
central theme of "What if you could spend an evening with Jesus?"
While the conversation is imagined, it is realistic in the types of
objections raised and how they are patiently answered in the book.
While cloaked in fiction, this little book is catching on in the
marketplace as a popular tool. The story and format alone become a
simple apologetic message for pre-evangelism yet couched in a
highly readable format.
I recommend DINNER WITH A PERFECT STRANGER. For Christians, it will
sharpen your insight into how to talk about your faith in today's
Reviewed by W. Terry Whalin on November 13, 2011