This weekend we continue with The Story Project series by stepping back to look at THE Story – God’s Grand Story of the Bible. The age-old question to explore as we do is, “How do I make sense of a story thousands of years in the making, one that takes place in lands far away?” And most importantly, “What does that story – the story of the Bible – have to do with my story??”
1. The Story: Messiah… (Genesis 3:14-15, 12:1-3; Isaiah 53:5-7,10; Matthew 1:17, 4:17, 16:21, 28:5-6; Romans 8:22-24)
- To tell the Story, we have to go back to the beginning – ALL the way back, to Genesis. God breathed creation to life, “and it was good.” Everything was as it should be, but then a mysterious “snake” that personified evil came into the picture and deceived humanity into breaking its trust with God. But right away, God makes a promise of One who would one day defeat evil. Then God doubles down on that promise through Abraham, pledging that his descendant would bless “all the families on earth.”
- As Abraham’s family becomes “a great nation,” leaders and kings arise that offer hope of the Promised One – the Messiah. But over and over, evil wins out and the people of Israel drift farther from God. The Old Testament prophets held out, maintaining that a day was coming when God would win a final victory over evil. That victory would come, according to Isaiah, through the sacrifice and suffering of a “Servant” who would somehow defeat sin and death through his own death.
- In the New Testament, Matthew connects Jesus to Abraham and shows that he is the Promised One from Genesis 3. Jesus himself confirmed that, proclaiming that “the Kingdom of Heaven” – his kingdom – was near. But he also made clear that establishing that kingdom would cost him his life.
- And now we await the end of the Story – the restoration of all of creation. Sin and death have already been defeated by Jesus for all who choose to accept him, but one day he will return to eliminate evil and death and injustice forever. We live in “the time in-between,” of “already…but not yet.”
2. …Becomes My Story (John 14:6; Matthew 6:25-26)
- The Grand Story of the Bible is fascinating and amazing and hope-filled, but how does MY story fit into THE Story? In a beautiful teaching that he gave to the disciples right before he was killed, Jesus explains to them that the connection between God’s Grand Story and their individual stories was him. Jesus alone, he told them, is the Way, the Truth, and the Life that they – and we – seek.
- When Jesus said “I am the Way,” he was answering the question of all religions: “How do I connect with, relate to and please the creator God of the universe? Jesus’ answer was simple but revolutionary: the way to God is not a way of doing, it’s through a relationship with a person.
- Jesus follows by proclaiming himself to be the Truth – not a truth, THE Truth. And he backed that claim up by rising from the dead. Because of his resurrection, his claims and his teachings must be accepted as ultimate truth – the singular Truth meant to guide our lives and our faith.
- Finally, Jesus told his disciples that he himself was and is the Life – the full, abundant life that all humanity was looking for. It was his reason for coming to earth, for taking on evil and sin and death: to give us the gift of life, the gift of salvation, the gift of reconnection to our Creator. All we have to do is trust him – and accept the gift.
These passages may provide additional insights related to the subject of this week’s message. All verses are NLT unless otherwise noted.
Genesis 2:15-17; Isaiah 7:14; Daniel 7:13-14; Matthew 4:12-17; Luke 4:16-21; 1 Corinthians 15:3-8
Video of the Week: The Messiah by the Bible Project
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION AND DISCUSSION
- How familiar were you with the “Grand Story” of the Bible prior to this week’s message? Would you say that it’s a story that’s had a lot of influence on your life? Why or why not?
- What parts of the story of the Bible do you have the most difficulty understanding and believing?
- In Genesis 2, God warns Adam not to eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (which, of course, he and Eve would later eat after being tempted by the “snake”). Why do you suppose God would put such a “bad” tree in the Garden of Eden in the first place?
- Read John 14:6 again. On its surface, Jesus’ claim in this verse to be the only way that someone can come to God seems pretty exclusive. Is it? Explain your answer.
- If you believe in Jesus’ physical resurrection, what evidence do you find most convincing that it was an actual historical event?
- The Grand Story of the Bible starts with creation – the account of a timeless, limitless, all-powerful God choosing to create and give order to physical matter and give life to humans and all other creatures. Why in the world do you think he would do that? What was his reason for creating??