Finding Jesus in Every Story
How to Read the Bible
It’s One Story, About Jesus
On Resurrection Sunday, two of Jesus’ disciples departed Jerusalem for their hometown of Emmaus, overwhelmed with grief. They had come to Jerusalem expecting to celebrate the Feast of the Passover, but instead had become unwitting witnesses to the slaying of Jesus, the true Passover Lamb. However, three days had now passed since Jesus’ crucifixion. The great day of the Lord’s resurrection, which the Hebrew Scriptures had foretold from the very beginning, had finally come, and instead of being filled with rejoicing, the Emmaus disciples were mourning the death of their Savior who was now risen!
The apostle Luke goes on to tell us that Jesus appeared to the Emmaus disciples and explained to them that all of the Old Testament, beginning with Moses and the Prophets, foretold the suffering of Christ on the cross and his subsequent, glorious resurrection on the third day (Luke 24:27). However, the deep irony of the Emmaus disciples mourning on Resurrection Sunday should not escape us. The Emmaus disciples were not ignorant of the Hebrew Scriptures. In fact, they probably knew the stories of the Old Testament better than most of us do today. The problem is that they didn’t understand them. They didn’t recognize that all of the stories in the Old Testament from beginning to end were pointing to Christ and his great day of triumph over death.
Do we read the Bible too much like the Emmaus disciples did? When we read the Bible, we need to approach it with the understanding that every story in the Old and New Testament is pointing us to the Savior. Jesus tells us directly in John 5:39 that all of the stories of Scripture speak of him. He says, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.” When we read the Bible through this interpretive lens, as Jesus instructed us, we find that the story of Jesus' suffering and glory embedded like a watermark in every story of the Bible. In turn, we discover that every story in the Bible is really just telling one story--the gospel story of our redemption through Jesus Christ!
The Bible contains a total of sixty-six books, written in multiple languages. An estimated 40 major authors and many other minor authors contributed to the Scriptures over the course of many centuries. Knowing this, we wouldn’t normally expect to find a compositional unity to the Bible.
Consider the following scenario. Suppose we went to a library and randomly took sixty-six books off the shelves that were written by different authors from many different locations and time periods throughout the centuries. We would hardly expect a random collection of books like this to demonstrate compositional unity, in other words, to show consistent use of themes, literary figures, and symbols, to employ appropriate conventions of genre, and to exhibit a recognizable dramatic development over the entire collection. We would only expect to find compositional unity of this sort when a book is written by one author.
But in spite of the Bible’s many authors, Jesus explicitly said that there is compositional unity to the Bible! He said that every story line in Scripture points directly to the resurrection of Christ. What Author could be responsible for compositional unity of this sort? Who but God himself could arrange such an intricately woven literary masterpiece that spans the centuries? And what greater assurance could we have that the text of Holy Scripture is the divinely written and inspired Word of God?