Jesus on every page: Reading the Biblical narrative in Five Acts

Mar 21, 2015 | Terra Hensel

The Bible came alive the summer I realized that Jesus really is on every page. 

Previously, I had loosely understood the Bible to be a letter from God to humanity—which is helpful, to a degree. But when the idea that this collection of letters, historical events, poetry, instructions and teaching was more than a thematically-compiled library was unwrapped for me, things got a lot clearer and a lot more exciting.

A grand narrative. A true story with a courageous main character, great adversity and conflict that ultimately climaxes in triumph.

Not a book of rules, or a book of heroes.

A children’s Bible was handed to me that summer, full of stunning illustrations. But it was part of the introduction to Sally Lloyd-Jones’  The Jesus Storybook Bible that captured my imagination.

“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 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 name. 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.”1

Reading the whole story in Five Acts

With the help of N.T. Wright and others who have thought about helping us understand this grand narrative, I’ve adapted a Biblical reading plan that will help you explore and hopefully enjoy this beautiful story of our Divine and Heavenly King on mission to rescue you.2

Read a passage a day, or blaze through an Act or two in one sitting. This is a great way to start reading the Bible or to refresh your time in the Word.

Bookmark this page for easy access. Click the links to view the scriptures in a pop-up window.

Act I: Creation

The Creation, Genesis 1 – 2:3
Praise God for His creation, Psalm 8
Praise to the Creator of all things, Psalm 104
Praise God for creating me, Psalm 139
God the Son at creation, John 1:1-14

Act II: The Fall

The fall into sin, Genesis 3
Noah, the flood and the ark, Genesis 6-9:17
God’s Law reveals sin, Exodus 20:1-18
A prayer of repentance, Psalm 51
No one is righteous, Romans 3:9-26

Act III: Israel

And at the center of the Story, there is a baby. Every story in the Bible whispers his name. 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.

Scene I: God chooses Israel as His people and makes a covenant

God’s covenant with Abraham, Genesis 12:1-9; 15:1-21
Abraham shows his absolute love & trust in God, Genesis 22:1-19
Jacob receives his father’s blessing, Genesis 27:1-40
Jacob’s (Israel’s) family, Genesis 29:16-30
Joseph the dreamer, Genesis 27:2-36; 39-50

Scene II: Israel enslaved in Egypt and rescued by God

Moses is born in Egypt, Exodus 1 – 2:10
God demonstrates His power over Egypt through the ten plagues, Exodus 7:14-11:10
The Passover, Exodus 12:1-17
The Israelites leave Egypt, Exodus 12:18-15:21
God’s covenant with Israel, Exodus 19-20; 24

Scene III: God delivers the promised land to Isreal and gives Israel kings to rule over them

God keeps His promise, Joshua 23-24
Rahab hides the Israelite spies, Joshua 2
David kills Goliath, 1 Samuel 17
David becomes king, 2 Samuel 5:1-5
God makes a covenant with David, 1 Chronicles 17:10-14
David and Bathsheba, 2 Samuel 11-12:25
David’s prayer, Psalm 23; 100

Scene IV: Israel turns away from God and is sent into exile

Israel breaks into two kingdoms, 1 Kings 11:26-40
The kings of Israel and Judah rebel against God, 1 Kings 15:1-5; 2 Kings 3:1-3; 12:1-3; 13:1-3; 16:1-4; 18:1-4
The wickedness of Israel continues, 2 Kings 21:1-16
Israel sent into exile, 2 Chronicles 36:15-23
God promises to redeem Israel through a Messiah, Isaiah 9:1-7
God’s promise to return, Isaiah 52:1-12
Daniel’s dream of God’s kingdom, Daniel 7

Act IV: Jesus

The birth of Jesus, Luke 1-2
The temptation of Jesus, Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13
The sermon on the mount, Matthew 5-6
Jesus shares His calling with the people, Luke 4:16-30
Jesus’ teaching on prayer, Luke 11:1-13
The lost son, Luke 15
New birth, John 3
Jesus is the resurrection and the life, John 11
Three prayers of Jesus, John 17
Jesus’ last meal with His disciples, Luke 22:7-38; 1 Corinthians 11:17-34
The death of Jesus, Luke 23:26-56
The resurrection of Jesus, Luke 24; John 20
Jesus ascends into heaven, Acts 1:1-11

Act V: The New People of God

The Great Commission from Jesus, Matthew 28:16-20
The promise and the coming of the Holy Spirit, Acts 1:1-8, Acts 2:1-21
The Church is born, Acts 2:22-47
Jesus, the fulfillment of Abraham’s covenant, Acts 3
Salvation in Jesus alone, Acts 4
Paul’s conversion, Acts 9:1-31
Paul’s testimony before King Agrippa, Acts 25:23-26:32
Israel and Gentiles as God’s chosen people, Romans 11:1-36
God’s great love for those who believe, Romans 8:31-39
The fruitful life of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22-23
The armor of God, Ephesians 6:10-18
Imitating Christ, Philippians 2:1-11
Heroes of the faith, Hebrews 11
Faith in actions, James 2:14 -26
The return of Christ, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 2 Peter 3:3-14
The new heaven and earth, Revelation 21-22

1 Lloyd-Jones, Sally. The Jesus Storybook Bible. Grandrapids, MI: Zonderkids, 2007.

2 New International Version Bible. Introduction “Getting Started”. Colorado Springs: Zondervan, 1984

Portions were originally published in “Moving Forward: A guide to following Jesus” 

 

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About the Author

Terra Hensel

Terra Hensel has served on staff with Power to Change – Students for over 12 years. Terra is a vibrant and beloved-by-Jesus coffee-snob, project manager, problem-solver and creative. She loves her husband, friends, jazz, books, sewing, singing, and dancing.

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