I recently purchased a new children's Bible after seeing it recommended a few times by Angie Smith on her blog and I wanted to review it here. It is called The Jesus Storybook Bible - Every story whispers his name, written by Sally Lloyd-Jones and illustrated by Jago.
This has got to be my favourite kid's Bible. The Jesus Storybook Bible tells the Story that connects all the stories of the Bible - Jesus is the centre of the Story, He is the piece that completes the puzzle. Here is part of the introduction that she writes....
Now, some people think the Bible is a book of rules, telling you what you should and shouldn't do. The Bible certainly does have some rules in it. They show you how life works best. But the Bible isn't mainly about you and what you should be doing. It's about God and what he has done.
Other people think the Bible is a book of heroes, showing you people you should copy. The Bible does have some heroes in it, but (as you'll soon find out) most of the people in the Bible aren't heroes at all. They make some big mistakes (sometimes on purpose). They get afraid and run away. At times they are downright mean.
No, the Bible isn't a book of rules, or a book of heroes. The Bible is most of all a Story. It's an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure. It's a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne - everything - to rescue the one he loves. It's like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come true in real life!
You see, the best thing about this Story is - it's true.
There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling one Big Story. The Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them.
It takes the whole Bible to tell this Story. And at the center of the Story, there is a baby. Every Story in the Bible whispers his names. He is like the missing piece in a puzzle - the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together, and suddenly you can see a beautiful picture.
After every Old Testament story, she adds an allusion to Jesus. Here are some examples...
After the story of Noah and the Ark she writes...
It wasn't long before everything went wrong again but God wasn't surprised, he knew this would happen. That's why, before the beginning of time, he had another plan - a batter plan. A plan not to destroy the world, but to rescue it - a plan to one day send his own Son, the Rescuer...
After the story of the Tower of Babel she writes..
You see, God knew, however high they reached, however hard they tried, people could never get back to heaven by themselves. People didn't need a staircase; they needed a Rescuer. Because the way back to heaven wasn't a staircase; it was a Person.
People could never reach up to Heaven, so Heaven would have to come down to them.
And, one day, it would.
After the story of God asking Abraham to sacrifice Isaac she writes...
Many years later, another Son would climb another hill, carrying wood on his back. Like Isaac, he would trust his Father and do what his Father asked. He wouldn't struggle or run away.
Who was he? God's Son, his only Son - the Son he loved.
The Lamb of God.
After the story of Joseph she writes...
One day, God would send another Prince, a young Prince whose heart would break. Like Joseph, he would leave his home and his Father. His brothers would hate him and want him dead. He would be sold for pieces of silver. He would be punished even though he had done nothing wrong.
But God would use everything that happened to this young Prince - even the bad things - to do something good: to forgive the sins of the whole world.
After the story of Moses and the rescue from Egypt and slavery....
God's people would always remember this great rescue and call it "Passover." But an even Greater Rescue was coming.
Many years later, God was going to do it again. He was going to come down once more to rescue his people. But this time God was going to set them free forever and ever.
And sometimes, she writes something that I hadn't even realized. You know all the stories, but sometimes you just don't put 2 + 2 together. Yes, I know that Jesus came from the line of Judah but I have never thought of it in the context of the story of Jacob, Rachel and Leah.
But God didn't think [Leah] was ugly. And when he saw that Leah was not loved and that no one wanted her, God chose her - to love her specially, to give her a very important job. One day, God was going to rescue the whole world - through Leah's family.... So when Leah had a baby boy she called him Juday, which means, "This time I will praise the Lord!"......You see, when God looked at Leah, he saw a princess. And sure enough, that's exactly what she became. One of Leah's children's children's children would be a prince - the Prince of Heaven - God's Son.
This Prince would love God's people. They wouldn't need to be beautiful for him to love them. He would love them with all of his heart. And they would be beautiful because he loved them. Like Leah.
Jesus' lineage is traced through Leah, not Rebecca! Nope, I'd hever put 2 + 2 together until I read that.
And the Ten Commandments....
No matter how hard they tried, they could never keep God's rules all the time.
God knew they couldn't. And he wanted them to know it, too.
Only on Person could keep all the rules. And many years later God would send him - to stand in their place and be perfect for them.
Because the rules couldn't save them.
Only God could save them.
One thing to keep in mind - this is a children's storybook bible. Lloyd-Jones does take some liberties with the biblical text (ex - in the story of Jacob & Rachel/Leah it is Laban's idea for Jacob to work for his daughters, instead of Jacob's). These are not word for word retellings of the Bible - after all, the reason it's a children's bible is to make it easier for children to understand. They are paraphrases, loose retellings. But they are not allegories. The few negative reviews on Amazon (105 5* ratings and only seven 1*) are generally concerned with this looseness aspect. But I love the way she writes and the way all the stories point to Jesus, that I can overlook the looseness. This is a children's book, not directly the inspired word of God - but it absolutely is a tool used to point us, and children in particular, to the Word. It definitely comes down on the love side of the love/law continuum. It talks about sin, but talks about grace more. And it is up to parents to ensure that they are teaching their children about all the aspects of God - His holiness, His justice, His mercy, His grace and on and on. But the gospel message comes shining through in Lloyd-Jones fun and inspiring writing style.
All in all, I highly recommend The Jesus Storybook Bible. The stories are a little on the long side - so not as great for 3 & 4 yr olds (depending on personality of course). But it's been an absolute hit with our 6 & 8 yr olds!
And myself as well...
In the New Testament the way she writes sometimes literally brings tears to my eyes. I believe this is my favourite page in the entire book.....
They nailed Jesus to the cross.
"Father, forgive them," Jesus gasped. "They don't understand what they're doing."
"You say you've come to rescue us!" people shouted. "But you can't even rescue yourself!"
But they were wrong. Jesus could have rescued himself. A legion of angels would have flown to his side - if he'd called.
"If you were really the Son of God, you could just climb down off that cross!" they said.
And of course they were right. Jesus could have just climbed down. Actually, he could have just said a word and made it all stop. Like when he healed that little girl. And stilled the storm. And fed 5,000 people.
But Jesus stayed.
You see, they didn't understand. It wasn't the nails that kept Jesus there. It was love.