“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Lk. 24:27, ESV). Oh how I wish I were one of the two men with Jesus on the road to Emmaus after His resurrection. I would have gladly taken Jesus stern remarks in the previous two verses to hear Jesus explain to me ever so clearly how all of the Old Testament spoke of and towards Him.
While abuse can occur in this regards, there can be no serious denial of the fact that the authors of all 66 books of the Bible are a consistent witness to the reality that Jesus is at the heart and center of all of Scripture. While the Old Testament is pointing forward and the New Testament is looking back at the cross, it is the person on the cross that makes it so significant. It is Jesus that runs through Scripture and his name is whispered and shouted from every book.
While there are a number of books presently that address the issue of Jesus in all of Scripture, there are none so simple and striking as Michael Williams newest book How to Read the Bible Through the Jesus Lens: A Guide to Christ-Focused Reading of Scripture. In less than 300 pages Williams covers each book of the Bible in four pages as he draws our attention to how each book reveals its Jesus centeredness. This is the Jesus lens.
Each chapter begins by stating the books main theme and then in two or three paragraphs gives a brief overview of the book showing how this theme is woven throughout the book. Within this section one verses is suggested as the main verse than encapsulates the theme of the book.
Following the overview is The Jesus Lens section. In just one to two paragraphs Williams clearly shows the reader how the central theme of the book is connected to Jesus. Williams does not look in to find what is not there but rather, as Jesus did with the two men on the road to
From here Williams takes a walk from the text to today by showing us the contemporary implications of this Christ-focused reading of Scripture. Because Scripture was written to people in their own world and contemporary setting and Jesus is its focus, it goes without saying that what was relevant concerning Jesus to the original hearers and recipients is in fact relevant to everyone after them.Emmaus, explains how each book points to and back to Jesus.
Finally, closely tied to the application section, each chapter closes with Hook Questions. These questions are designed to get the reader thinking about how to connect the Christ-centered message and implications of each book into their own lives.
At the end of the book there is a helpful chart of all 66 books of the Bible with each books theme, Jesus-focus, implications and hook questions. Reading through these few pages will make the Jesus-focused lens of Scripture all the more clear.
As part of the Zonverdan How to Read the Bible Through the Jesus Lens blog tour, in addition to providing a review of the book I am responsible for highlighting the pastoral epistles and their Jesus-focused message.
Given the collective name of the pastoral epistles (I & II Timothy and Titus), it is no surprise that the theme of all three books is essentially unified around that of truth. The church is to promote the truth and oppose error (I Tim.), be loyal to the truth of the gospel message (II Tim.) and proclaim the ways in which the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ transforms the life and the believer and the church community. It is no stretch to see how the theme of truth relates and speaks to Jesus. He is its source and manifestation. As being sent from God, Jesus was to and did live and speak the truth of God. We are encouraged to be loyal to God’s truth as revealed in Jesus just as God will be loyal to his followers because they are in Christ Jesus their Savior. Until Christ returns to bring completion to His salvific promise, believers have the life of Jesus as an example of how to live out the truth of His saving and transforming gospel in our lives. In writing to Timothy and Titus, Paul speaks to us today and encourages us to be loyal to the gospel through our defense of truth, correction of error and our witness to the world through the transforming power of the gospel in our lives.
I highly recommend How to Read the Bible Through the Jesus Lens as a simple and clear introduction to the Christ-focused message of each book of the Bible. As Justin Taylor says on the back of the book, this is the kind of book you want to put into the hands of every member of your church!
NOTE: I received this book from Zondervan for review in return for an unbiased and free review.