Monday, March 5, 2012

Review: How to Read the Bible Through the Jesus Lens

How to Read the Bible Through the Jesus Lens
John 5:39 presents Christ's claim that He is indeed the fundamental revelation of all of Scripture and that all of Scripture testifies of Him. He demonstrates this with His disciples on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24:13-35, "And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself." After which they remarked that their hearts burned within them when He opened the Scriptures to them. The revelation was one that hit their heart as well as their head, and though we're inclined to believe it involved heavy exegesis, it was a spiritual revelation.

Michael Williams new book How to read the Bible through the Jesus Lens is designed to introduce readers to the revelation of Christ through all the Scriptures and restore the emphasis on God's redemptive work through the person of Jesus. Williams writes, "To accomplish this purpose in a book that one doesn't need a wheelbarrow to carry around, the chapters are brief and similarly structured. In each one, I present the overarching theme of each biblical book along with a discussion of how that theme ultimately finds its focus in Jesus Christ." How to Read the Bible Through the Jesus Lens is not intended to be an intensive study or a detail based examination of the Bible, but an overview of each biblical book designed to empower the reader to investigate the presence of Christ within the text.

How to Read the Bible Through the Jesus Lens is designed as a cross between Cliff's notes and a book introduction in a good Study Bible. The emphasis is on theme and application, but Williams formats the book overviews into sections: Introduction (which includes Theme and Memory Verse), The Jesus Lens, Contemporary Implications, and Hook Questions. An introduction of the material and the theme is followed by a more explicit explanation of how the book testifies to Jesus and then concluded by directing the revelation at the reader through applications and questions. All of this is accomplished in about four pages per book.

I chose John's epistles as the main section to review for this book, epistles which make Jesus and His work explicit. However, reading John's epistles through the Jesus lens means not being distracted by abstraction or controversy (his naming of names and his identification of specific heresies), but by focusing on John's specific revelation of Christ. Williams shows how John identifies the redemptive character of Christ's life through the two loves in Luke 10:27 and then challenges his readers to live from the life of Christ, "For John, the deep truths of the faith must always be exegeted by Christian Behavior. Life from Christ should exhibit characteristics of the life of Christ." This theme is compounded by John's exposure of lies and behavior that deny Christ and His redemptive work, describing Christ's deity and humanity with force.

Williams introduction to John's epistles reminds the reader of the revelation of Jesus, from which John writes and highlights how John describes the life of Christ and Christ as the Truth. These highlights will help the reader sustain a reading of the text through the Jesus Lens and help them avoid missing the revelation of Christ in the midst of John's confrontation of false doctrine.

Williams introduction and highlight of the themes of the book train the reader to focus on Jesus first and foremost and equips the reader to do that, to be aware of what to look for. How to Read the Bible Through the Jesus Lens describes what Jesus looks like and where Jesus is in each book of the Bible. It is simple equipment for the general reader that will help reveal Christ throughout the Scriptures. It may not be an ideal resource for those with a high level of biblical literacy but it will almost certainly serve as an important reminder of who the Scriptures are about and help read the Bible with an important understanding of how it relates to their redemption.


  1. Michael WilliamsMarch 5, 2012 at 9:12 AM

    Thanks for a good and fair review. John certainly wanted his readers to focus on Christ. Basic, yes, but the Church seems to forget this basic necessity too often, to our own peril. If I can get the Church talking about the centrality of Christ, in the Scriptures and hopefully in our individual and corporate lives, then I'm a happy camper.

    1. I'm honored that you stopped by to read the review. Your book and your Christ centered focus are admirable and inspiring.