Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Book Review: Journeys with Jesus

Journeys with Jesus: Every Path in the Bible Leads Us to Christ. Dennis E. Johnson. Abridged by Richard B. Ramsey. 2018. P&R Publishing. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: THE TITLE OF this book implies an audacious claim: all sixty-six books in the Bible, which were written by many people over many centuries, are united by one central theme, a single plotline, and a unique Hero, Jesus the Messiah.

Journeys with Jesus: Every Path in the Bible Leads Us To Christ is an abridgment of Walking with Jesus Through His Word: Discovering Christ in All the Scriptures by Dennis E. Johnson.

I loved, loved, loved the longer book and I loved the abridged version as well. The premise of both is great.

The premise is simple: Christ can be found in all of Scripture--not just the New Testament. Believers can benefit greatly by understanding HOW Christ can be found in each and every book of the Bible. Sometimes, Johnson argues, Christ can clearly be seen. For example, when New Testament writers under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, clearly connect Old Testament passages with Jesus Christ the Savior. He can be seen as the Seed, the Branch, the Passover Lamb, the Son of David, etc. Other times Christ's presence is more subtle and takes a little effort. For example, he can be seen in the covenants, with a covenantal understanding of the Bible. He can be seen in the roles of priest, prophet, and king. Johnson guides his readers into a proper understanding of how to read the Bible. He covers all types and genres of the Bible.

One of the things I appreciate most about the book is how natural it is, how he believes that believers should learn how to read the bible by reading the bible. In other words, he argues that the New Testament writers show us how to read the Bible, how to approach it, how to interpret it. Also by letting bible texts shed light on other bible texts.

I also loved how substantive it is. It isn't intimidating or super-academic yet there is a weightiness to it that is needed.

What does it mean to journey with Jesus through his Word? It means letting him teach us how to interpret the Bible. So it also means learning to see him in the Word. In other words, to combine the two ideas, it means asking Jesus to show us himself in the Bible.
We need Jesus to open the Bible to us, and to open us up to the Bible. When we fail to see how the whole Bible focuses on Christ at its center, part of our problem—not the whole problem, but part of it—may be that our hearts are sluggish, slow, and unbelieving. Maybe we are not coming to our Bibles with the anticipation that everything between their covers is given to us by our loving Creator and Redeemer to draw our hearts more firmly to himself in confident trust, humble repentance, and grateful love. When we have trouble seeing how the whole Bible centers on Christ, the problem may well be not in the Bible or even in our Bible-study strategies, but in ourselves.
Why is it important to learn to journey with Jesus through his Word? First, Jesus taught his apostles to read the Word at a pivotal historical moment, between his sufferings on earth and his glories in heaven. Like them and through their writings, we must learn to read the Bible as Christ taught them to read it. Second, when Jesus opens the Scriptures and opens our minds and hearts, we discover the rich beauty, the varied dimensions, of his manifold grace. Third, seeing Jesus’ glory in the Bible transforms us from the inside out, to reflect his own truth and love (2 Cor. 3:18).

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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