Sunday, May 25, 2014

Bible Review: The Jesus Bible

The Jesus Bible, NIV: Discover Jesus in Every Book of the Bible. 2014. Zondervan (Zonderkidz) 1760 pages. [Source: Review copy]
THE CHRISTIAN IS ALWAYS pleased and delighted when he can see Christ in the Scriptures. If he can but detect the footstep of his lord, and discover that the sacred writers are making some reference to him, however indistinct or dark he will rejoice there at: for all the Scriptures are nothing except as we find Christ in them. ~ Charles Spurgeon, "A Wise Desire"

Last fall, I reviewed The Gospel Transformation Bible published by Crossway (ESV). I loved, loved, loved, LOVED it. I was thrilled with the premise. The Jesus Bible published by Zonderkidz has a very similar premise but a different target audience. The Jesus Bible is geared more towards kids than adults. (Not that adults can't benefit from reading this one to a certain extent--truth is truth is truth. But still, I'd say this one was especially written for children.)

So what were my first impressions of the Jesus Bible?

I love it. I do. I just LOVE it. I love so many things about it. There are 365 devotionals. I am not one who usually "loves" devotionals. I can like them. I can sometimes even really like them. But actual love-love, well, that's a bit rarer for me. But. The devotionals in The Jesus Bible, well, they work for me. I think they would have worked for me as a kid--I think I would have loved this one as a kid. I loved to read the Bible. But it was a whole different world back then. Children's bibles then meant a dozen illustrations or so and slightly larger text. As an adult, I can appreciate the devotionals as well. The idea that truth is being presented so clearly, so accessibly to young readers, well, it excites me!!!
Show the Glory (2 Thessalonians 1:12, NIV)
You've heard a lot about glorifying God. But what does that really mean? The word glory means the brilliance of God on display. Glory is the awesome character of God, in all his power and authority and wisdom. When we glorify God, we make his character known to people around us. In other words, we show the world the awesome power and brilliance of God.
Jesus showed the world God's power, authority, and wisdom. He performed miracles, forgave sins, and taught people God's Word. He glorified God by obeying God and serving people. Jesus was the brilliance of God for all humankind to see.
We can glorify God by obeying him and serving others. We can glorify him by singing about how awesome he is. We can glorify God by forgiving others like he forgives us. We can glorify God by sharing the good news about Jesus with others.
Glory is a pretty heavy word, isn't it? Glorifying God is a big job, but Jesus graciously gives us the ability to do it.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, please show me a way to glorify you today. Amen. (1566)
The Exact Replica (Hebrews 1:3, NIV)
This verse in Hebrews 1 is unique. It contains two Greek words that aren't used anywhere else in the Bible. The first Greek word is apaugasma. Can you say that one? It means radiance. Jesus is the radiance of God's glory. He is all the brilliance, all the light of God.
The second Greek word is charakter. It means exact representation. Want to know what God is like? Look at Jesus. Want to know God's character? Look at Jesus.
In all the fullness of God's glory, Jesus gives us an exact picture of who God is. When we read about Jesus and how he loves all people, forgives even the worst mistakes, and performs miracles, that's exactly what God is like. And that is why Jesus now sits at the right hand of God in heaven.
Jesus is God. Jesus is God's Word. Jesus came to earth so we could see who God really is.
Prayer: Dear God, thank you for giving us an exact picture of you. Thank you for letting me see who you are through everything Jesus said and did. Amen. (1594)
I've read the devotionals for Genesis through Deuteronomy, Psalms and Proverbs, the first half of Isaiah, Luke and John, and many of the epistles. I've read enough to know that I LOVE this feature of the Jesus Bible!

So what other features does it offer readers? In the Old Testament there are "Hints of the Savior" and in the New Testament we see "Jesus Revealed." Combine the two features--and they are meant to be linked--and you have seventy-five opportunities of discovering Jesus in every book!

Hints of the Savior

  • Genesis 3:15 God promised that Jesus would be born as a human and would crush Satan. Turn to Galatians 4:4-5 and Revelation 12:1 to see the fulfillment.
  • Genesis 12:1-3 Jesus would come to save all people. Turn to Romans 10:4, 12-13 to see the fulfillment.
  • Genesis 18:25 Jesus would be the judge over the whole world. Turn to Acts 10:42 to see the fulfillment.
  • Exodus 28:1, 29 Jesus would be our high priest like Aaron. Turn to Hebrews 6:19-20 to see the fulfillment.
  • Exodus 28:4, 42-43 Jesus would be our priestly garments, representing righteousness. Turn to Philippians 3:9 to see the fulfillment.

Jesus Revealed

  • Hebrews 8:1 Jesus is our high priest and king in heaven. This was prophesied in Zechariah 6:12-13.
  • Hebrews 9:11-15, 27-28, Jesus' death and resurrection ended the grip of sin. This was prophesied in Daniel 9:24. 
  • Hebrews 10:12 Jesus is in heaven sitting at God's right hand. This was prophesied in Psalm 110:1.
  • 1 Peter 1:18-21 Jesus was the perfect, sinless Passover sacrifice. This was prophesied in Exodus 12:3-7 and Deuteronomy 16:2-6.

In terms of application, readers get touches of this in some of the devotionals and in the "Live Like Jesus" features.
Live Like Jesus (Luke 6:27)
If you've ever had a real enemy, you know how you feel about him or her. Can you even imagine loving that person? Jesus tells us to love our enemies and do good to those who hate us. It's tempting though, to overlook this command. You might think, "Jesus doesn't understand what I'm going through. Jesus doesn't know my enemy. I can't love that person!" But Jesus does know. Jesus had enemies who hated him so much that they killed him. But Jesus loved them every step of the way, all the way to his death. And with his power, we can love our enemies too. (1346)
There are also book introductions for each book! They are short and simple, yet informative.
1 Thessalonians
Where is Jesus in this book?
This letter talks about Jesus' second coming--his return to earth. Jesus will come again in power and glory to make the world and everything in it new and beautiful again (1 Thessalonians 1:10; 3:13). This letter also talks about how we can please God and live differently from the people around us who don't love Jesus.
Who wrote this book? Paul.
Why was this book written? The book of 1 Thessalonians teaches the Christians in Thessalonica how to please God.
For whom was this book written? This book is a letter Paul sent to Christians at Thessalonica.
When was this book written? This book was written about A.D. 51 from Corinth.
What are some important teachings in this book?
  • Being Christian Examples   1 Thessalonians 1:4-10
  • Living to Please God           1 Thessalonians 4:3-12
  • Jesus Will Come Again       1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
There are also some special charts and lists in this Bible. Some of these include:

  • Jesus in the Psalms
  • Miracles of Jesus
  • Jesus by the Numbers
  • The "I Am" Statements of Jesus
  • Parables of Jesus
  • Who Saw Jesus Alive?
  • Time Line of Jesus' Life
  • Simplified Family Tree of Jesus

The only feature that I don't love? Well, the Words of Christ are in red. I have strong preferences for black-letter Bibles. BUT. I've learned to overlook this "weakness" of the Bible because it is so great everywhere else!!!

Would I recommend it?

I would definitely recommend this one! I think it would make a great choice for children. I think it would be a great first choice for a Bible. It has just enough features to be friendly, inviting, and appealing. It's informative. The focus is where it ought to be--GOD. I really appreciated so many things about this one.
Remember, dear Friends, that Christ Himself is the Word of God, and also remember that the Scriptures are the word of the Word. They are "the word of Christ." I think that they will be all the sweeter to you if you realize that they speak to you of Christ, that He is the sum and substance of them, that they direct you to Christ, in fact, as John says of His Gospel, that they were "written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you might have life through His name." Remember, also, that the Scriptures do, in effect, come to us from Christ. Every promise of this blessed Book is a promise of Christ, "for all the promises of God in Him are yes, and in Him, Amen, unto the glory of God by us." They all come to us through Christ, God speaks them to us through Him as the Mediator. Indeed, we may regard the whole of the Sacred Scriptures, from the beginning of Genesis to the end of Revelation, as being "the word of Christ." ~ Charles Spurgeon, Christ's Indwelling Word
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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