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Through the Jesus Lens
February 22, 2012
It is one of Jesus’ more audacious claims—that all of the Scriptures testify to him. As Jesus appealed to the religious authorities of his day and as he exposed their ignorance, he declared that he himself is the subject of the Bible; he himself is the one all of the Old Testament Scriptures were pointing to.
Finding Christ in the pages of the Bible can be a challenge at times, and especially so when reading portions of the Old Testament. Michael Williams’ How to Read the Bible Through the Jesus Lens is a helpful guide to a Christ-focused reading of the Bible. Williams is Professor of Old Testament at Calvin Theological Seminary and his passion is to teach people to understand and appreciate the grand sweep of redemptive history. This book puts that passion in print by going through each of the books of the Bible to show how each one and how all of them together point to Jesus Christ.
Williams turns to a puzzle to provide an illustration. He says:
The picture of Christ in the Old Testament can be obscured by veritable whiteout conditions of chronological, sacrificial, architectural, geographic, and genealogical details, so that all that can be made out after spending some time in the snowstorm is a mound of white where the car used to be. To an admittedly lesser degree, the problem exists for the New Testament as well. Names of apostles and disciples, travelogues, letters to forgotten churches in obscure locales regarding confusing theological issues—all of this can seem like so many different shaped jigsaw pieces without a picture on the box to help us to put it all together. This book is intended to help believers make the picture on the box. And it is a picture of Jesus.
In a book targeted at the general reader rather than the scholar, Williams structures each chapter in precisely the same way. He introduces a book of the Bible and draws out its theme while also suggesting an ideal memory passage. He then examines the book through “The Jesus Lens” to show how that theme finds its focus in Jesus Christ; he follows this with a short piece of contemporary application. Each chapter wraps up with a few hook questions that drive home both understanding and application. He does all of this in just about four pages for each book.
This is an ideal resource to refer to if you are involved in a Bible-reading plan or if you would just like to gain a deeper understanding of the Scriptures. As you begin reading a new book of the Bible, you will find it helpful to turn to How to Read the Bible Through the Jesus Lens to get an overview of that book and to train yourself to read it through the Jesus lens. It will sharpen your understanding of what you have read (or are about to read) and help ensure that you do not miss Jesus amidst the stories and genealogies and all the other things that sometimes threaten to cloud our view.
Through the Jesus Lens