Seeing the Big Picture
In order to read the Bible, it helps to see the big picture.
When my toddler is building a cabin out of Lincoln Logs, it helps to look at the blueprints provided inside the box. Without a diagram, building these cabins can be frustrating, and to the unskilled (like my son), even impossible. To make use of all of the pieces and to build a beautiful cabin, it’s best to follow directions.
In a similar way, when we are reading the Bible, we should keep in mind the overarching story to help us navigate through all of the details. This will help us go in the right direction and avoid making some serious blunders in interpretation.
So, what is the Bible all about? For such a large book written across so many years, it’s a lot simpler than you think.
Seeing the Plan of Salvation
From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is God’s story of salvation. It is about the person and work of Jesus Christ. He was the promised offspring of the woman (Gen. 3:15), the champion who was sent to save a fallen people for himself by crushing the serpent’s head with his own blood. It seems paradoxical to be sure, but that’s how “it is finished.”
The Bible outlines God’s rescue mission of sinners in story after story—in parables, poems, and prophecies. This story of God saving us is scattered across every page of the Old and New Testaments. Sometimes it’s not so easy to see, but every passage ultimately finds its fulfillment and climax in the words and work of Jesus Christ.
God the Father sent his only begotten Son to do what everyone else in history has failed to do, including Adam, Israel, and all of us. We have each failed in our own way to love God and our neighbor perfectly. But Jesus never failed to love God and neighbor. He did exactly what God sent him to do, and he—the baby who was born to die—did all of that so that we would live with him now and forevermore.
In short, the Bible is all about Jesus.
Getting Sidetracked By Other Stories
As easy as it is to discover that Jesus Christ is the main character and climax of the whole Bible, it’s also easy to get sidetracked and to forget what—or rather who—the story is really about. Often, even trained preachers and good teachers can forget that the Bible is all about Jesus. Churches can drift into teaching all sorts of interesting topics that help us live a better life but don’t increase our love for Jesus.
If any church is not regularly proclaiming Jesus from the Bible, then it is not really reading the Bible anymore. That may sound like a strong statement, but the Bible’s pages are so full of Jesus that it takes serious effort to ignore him or avoid him.
This is usually not intentional; but because of our sin, it’s easy to read ourselves, instead of Christ, into his story. Because of our sin, we want to make the Bible all about us. It’s easy to do. Often we are told to replace the word “Israel” or “Paul” in a Bible verse for our own name. But in truth, the Bible is all about Jesus who came to save us.
The Bible is first about the story of Jesus before it can ever become our story. If we make the story about us first, then we will lose both Jesus and ourselves.
It’s sort of like what C. S. Lewis said, “Put first things first and we get second things thrown in: put second things first and we lose both first and second things” (excerpt from a letter to Dom Bede Griffiths [April 23, 1951]).
So, the next time you pick up your Bible, be sure to fix your eyes on Jesus—“the author and finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:2 KJV).