History – His Story
When I was writing my dissertation for my masters a few months ago, my tutor stressed the importance of making it read in some way like a story; setting the scene as to the background of the area I was studying and why this particular work was being done, followed by a narrative of what was done, and finishing with what was learnt. Seeing as this was a scientific report, a “story” definitely wasn’t how I would have thought of structuring the piece but, as my tutor pointed out, it was important for the reader to be able to see the background and importance of the work. Rather than standing alone, this would highlight the interest and relevance of the work done. It struck me, however, that we as people have this tendency to place stories at the heart of what we do; every culture is rich in its own storytelling traditions, and literature is considered a huge part of education. Stories of all forms are loved by all ages, used in all situations, and often endure longer than other forms of information. Where does this love of stories come from?
It occurred to me that at the heart of life is a great Story, one which defines all our lives and places them in their ultimate context, giving them real meaning. So, it is no wonder that as humans we gravitate towards stories, whether or not we acknowledge the greatest Story – and more importantly the greatest Storyteller. Perhaps the quintessential story is that of the rescue: A happy home which is suddenly interrupted by a great tragedy, often as a result of some dark or evil force, but then, when all hope seems lost, a heroic rescue, often through the dangerous and sacrificial act of the rescuer, and from there a ‘happily ever after’. Does this not sound familiar?
The Bible tells us of the history of humankind from its very beginnings, and from a perfect start it is not long before darkness and sadness enter in as mankind reject God and turn from His ways, seeking instead to serve and worship themselves. But the story does not end there! The Lord Jesus, God Himself, became a man and entered into the world to save us from this sin and darkness which we had vainly struggled to get out of by ourselves for so long – and the story ends in the book of Revelation with a wedding feast as the Lord claims His redeemed people for His bride. There is no story with a greater ‘happily ever after’ than this!
But, you might say, the Bible is a long book, full of history and poetry and rules and regulations, especially in the Old Testament, the part written before the birth of Jesus Christ. How does this all fit in to the grand story? Jesus Himself answers this question when He says to two of His followers shortly after His resurrection:
‘“Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.’ (Luke 24:26-27)
What Jesus says here opens the Bible up to us in a remarkable way; everything that is written is in some way speaking about Him. Many of the historical figures whose stories are told also serve as pictures of the Lord Jesus and how He defeated sin and death at the cross, triumphing over them. Think for example of David slaying Goliath, Joseph having been made a slave by his brothers but going on to save the world from famine, or Boaz redeeming Ruth as his bride*. We find out in the New Testament book of Hebrews how the long Levitical passages explaining the sacrificial system, and the associated rules and regulations, all point forward to the saving work that Jesus would do, rescuing His people – which was also foretold in the prophetic books. The New Testament books give biographical accounts of His life, and explain the work that He did at the cross, and the implications of it in our lives – and our futures.
Knowing this opens up the Bible from what can initially seem as a dry, irrelevant book, to the most exciting and relevant one you will ever read! It is the greatest Story ever told: the darkest of enemies, the most sacrificial of rescues, and the most inconceivably wonderful of endings. But while it is our story, as a story of human history, it is also the story of the greatest Rescuer, one who loves each and every one of us, and gave up His life proving that love. In all the stories of the world the rescuer is recognised and admired – but do you recognise the Lord Jesus in your life? The happily ever after can only happen if the one in trouble recognises their need and allows themselves to be rescued, if the princess allows the prince to save her. Will you recognise your need today, as a sinner far from the God who loves and made you, and accept His gift of salvation? Will you accept His rescue and secure your future in Him? Nothing compares to this, nothing else can fully satisfy, and He will never let you down!
* See 1 Samuel 17, Genesis 37, 39-47 and Ruth 1-4