I’ve been reading The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones to my son since he was in the womb. It began as an attempt to get him acquainted with my voice, but I soon started choosing the children’s book over a thick ESV for my own quiet time. My “adult” Bible has subheadings and superscript numbers that can make the text feel like fragments rather than one seamlessly woven narrative. In my baby’s Bible, each story feels as if it works together to tell an even bigger tale.
I have to remind myself that the books of the Bible weren’t written with breaks. Each of them was a letter, a historical account, a collection of songs, poetry, or prophecy. Together they create a flawless literary work. Character development, foreshadowing, tension—all the elements of good storytelling are there.
In the beginning God (the protagonist) creates man—His most loved creation—in His image. Conflict quickly enters the scene: Satan (the antagonist) convinces mankind to follow his ways rather than those of God. But then the protagonist defeats the antagonist, first on a cross and finally on a cosmic battlefield, saving mankind from a terrible fate. On the Bible’s very last pages, the reader sees the resolution: a wedding, a feast, and God’s people becoming citizens of heaven.
Between the key plot points, God pursues His lost people in numerous subplots. That’s where I often lose sight of the big picture. Take the story of Joseph, which is found in Genesis. Isolated from the rest of Scripture, the account compels me to forgive and repay evil with kindness. But laced into the Bible’s complete narrative, the story also prefigures the coming Messiah. Lloyd-Jones says it like this:
One day, God would send another Prince, a young Prince whose heart would break. Like Joseph, he would leave his home and his Father. His brothers would hate him and want him dead. He would be sold for pieces of silver. He would be punished even though he had done nothing wrong. But God would use everything that happened to this young Prince—even the bad things—to do something good: to forgive the sins of the whole world.
Although the children’s book is a playful, condensed account of God’s Word, it has helped me see something I once missed: Each story within God’s epic narrative points to Christ. “Every story whispers His name,” Lloyd-Jones writes. “He is like the missing piece in a puzzle—the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together, and suddenly you can see a beautiful picture.”
Signs of Jesus are everywhere. The Bible’s many storylines develop the character of Christ before He’s formally introduced, and they continue to tell His story after He has ascended into heaven. Whether I read a passage in the morning before crawling out of bed or meditate on a verse while cooking dinner, I must remember that God’s whole picture is best viewed through Christ. The encompassing presence of Christ forms the most stunning story ever written.