Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Parents: Buy This Book. Read it. Love it.

Simone (age 5) and I just finished The Jesus Story Book Bible by Sally Llody-Jones.

We both highly recommend it.

Although there are plenty of picture Bibles on the market, this one has some unique differences. For one thing, what sets this Bible apart is the theology contained therein. Young children may not be able to pick up on the differences between this book and the others out there, but I sure did.

The Jesus Story Book Bible tells many of the same stories (Adam and Eve, Noah, Jonah etc.) as many kids' books do, but the difference is that it does not attempt to make every story into a little moral "lesson." Hang with me here...

"Be good, not bad!" That seems to be as deep as most children's Bibles go.

Be obedient, or else you too will get eaten by a big fish like Jonah! Daniel was obedient, so the lions didn't eat him. You better be obedient too! But is that the main point of Scripture?

Sure, the Scriptures contain morality and ethics. Much of our Bible (the real one that is) contains the Law of God. There is Law in both testaments. Nothing wrong with that. Psalm 119 tells us the Law is glorious and good. It rebukes and corrects us. Points our our flaws. But is that the main idea of Scripture? Surely we must go further than that to get to the heart of the Gospel.

Where Lloyd-Jones excels is in showing how much of the Old Testament foreshadows the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, she does well to show how the Bible is one running story of redemption history (seminary term!) In that sense, the point of the book is to show how the entire Bible is really all about Jesus: Him coming, His sacrifice, His Lordship. Here, Llody-Jones gets it exactly right. Rather than showing a series of unrelated tales on "be good, not bad!" this book is truly about the main idea--Jesus came to redeem a people that COULD not be good!

Rather than viewing the Old Testament as a string of "fables" in which we need to seek "the moral of the story" she views the entire OT as preparing a way for the Messiah. This is, of course, how Jesus HIMSELF interpreted the OT. (See for instance Jesus' summary of OT teaching in Luke 24:27 and 24:44-49).

By the time Sally Lloyd-Jones gets to the New Testament, eager young ears are waiting to hear about how God's great promises are fulfilled--and we get a hearty dose of the Gospel in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

The illustrations by "Jago" are also outstanding. (They must be for a person who goes by only one name! If you are going to go by one name only, you better be excellent. Ask Pele).

Also, some Reformed readers won't like the depictions of Jesus. Theologically, I'm still a bit uneasy about that one myself too. (See Larger Catechism #109). We can debate whether any of the persons of the Trinity can be pictured at another time.

Nevertheless, this daddy (also a pastor) nearly got chocked up as the author and illustrator together combined to put on a brilliant picto-graphic portrayal of Christ's love throughout the whole work. I know you and your children will love it for a lifetime too.

-Matthew Everhard is the Senior Pastor of Faith Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Brooksville Florida. 

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