See The Jesus Storybook Bible's story of the Fall.
The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name disproves the adage that you can't judge a book by its cover.
Jago's award-winning cover art is a foretaste of the whimsically insightful and richly colored drawings that await you on every one of the book's 351 pages. The illustrations alone are worth the price of the book.
Did you ever wonder what Jacob's face looked like the morning after his wedding night, when he woke up in bed with a different woman than the one he thought he had married Leah instead of Rachel? Jago did, and what he imagined and drew made me laugh out loud.
Jago the illustrator, and Sally Lloyd-Jones (no relation to Martyn) the author, are a good pair. She brings the same creativity and sense of humor to her telling of the Bible's stories.
This is artistic license at its best, throughout this wonderful book. God commands Pharaoh to set his people free and the despot reacts with a tantrum, stamping his foot and shouting, "Why should I? . Don't want to. WON'T!" The title Lloyd-Jones gives to the classic story of Daniel in the lion's den is, "Daniel and the Scary Sleepover."
But Lloyd-Jones's writing isn't cutesy. She has a grasp of the profound. How does one explain to a child the agony of Jesus in Gethsemane, and his prayer of surrender to his Father? Lloyd-Jones does it as well as any biblical commentator:
"Papa! Father!" Jesus cried. And he fell to the ground. "Is there any other way to get your children back? To heal their hearts? To get rid of the poison?" . Violent sobs shook Jesus' whole body. Then Jesus was quiet. Like a lamb. "I trust you, Papa," he said. "Whatever you say, I will do."
Jago's drawings of the scene moved me to tears. I can only imagine what it will be like to sit with the book open to this scene, a child at my side, and try to read it aloud.
The title and subtitle are even better than the book's delightful illustrations and narrative because they provide, in one deft stroke, the interpretive key that unlocks the meaning of the whole Bible.
The Jesus Storybook Bible says it all: The Scriptures are not merely a collection of stories designed to teach moral lessons. As Jesus explained to the men walking the road to Emmaus on Resurrection Sunday, the whole Bible is about Jesus. In the words of the subtitle, every story whispers his name.
This critical perspective is missing from so much of the evangelical church. I remember as a young pastor being asked by the director of children's ministries in our church to help out in vacation Bible school by dressing up like an Old Testament character and telling the kids my story.
Naturally I chose Samson, because I thought he would be fun to play. But when I reread the story through the lens of how I would tell it to children, I didn't know what to leave in and what to take out. Could I tell them about the time I tied the tails of foxes together, set them on fire, and sent them running through the Philistines' vineyards? Or the time, after spending the night in a brothel, I tore the city gates from their hinges and carried them off?
I couldn't. I had to bowdlerize the Bible to make it accessible and acceptable to kids. At what age would they be ready to hear the story unexpurgated? More importantly, at what age would I be able to tell the story in its full Christological significance? The truth is, the Bible is an adult book. Of necessity, we must distort it to teach it to children.
But, every story whispers Jesus' name. Samson's story may be a uniquely hard case, and I notice Sally Lloyd-Jones doesn't tell it. But she manages to show again and again the presence of Christ in all the Old Testament Scriptures, and the presence of the Old Testament Scriptures in the life of Christ.
Sometimes she does this with startling insight: Her take on the story of Leah and Rachel is an ancient reading of the text that points straight to the gospel and the doctrine of election. Her telling of the woman's anointing of Jesus in Simon's home in Luke 7 connects her act of adoration with Samuel's anointing of David in 1 Samuel.
Lloyd-Jones tells us at the beginning of the book that the story of the Bible is a story that could have ended abruptly with the Fall, but didn't, because God loved his children too much to let that happen. She ends with John in exile on Patmos, writing down his vision, struggling to cram all that he saw into one book. So when he came to the end of his book, he didn't write "The End."
Because, of course, that's how stories finish. (And this one's not over yet)
So instead, he wrote: "Come quickly, Jesus!"
Which, perhaps, is really just another way of saying To be continued
What follows is a paraphrase of John 1:1113, and an invitation to say yes to Jesus and receive his wonderful gift.
Because, you see, the most wonderful thing about this Story isit's your story, too!
I'm hoping to invite my adult friends over for an evening with the Story. It will help some of us (well, me) to retool our theology a bit. We'll pass The Jesus Storybook Bible around and read it aloud, taking time to look at the pictures. I think it can be done, but even if we don't finish, it will be okay, because the story is still unfolding anyway.
Ben Patterson is campus pastor at Westmont College and a contributing editor to Christianity Today.
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The Jesus Storybook Bible is available from ChristianBook.com and other retailers.
USA Today featured The Jesus Storybook Bible in its article on children's' Bibles.