If you grew up in the church—OK, even if you occasionally took in a Sunday School or VBS—chances are you heard the story of Jonah and the whale when you were a kid. But here’s a conclusion I bet you never heard (I didn’t):
Many years later, God was going to send another Messenger with the same wonderful message. Like Jonah, he would spend three days in utter darkness.
But this Messenger would be God’s own Son. He would be called “The Word” because he himself would be God’s Message. God’s Message translated into our own language. Everything God wanted to say to the whole world—in a Person.
This is what I love about The Jesus Storybook Bible: Each story is delightfully told, including some that don’t often make the Sunday School rotation, like Namaan and the servant girl from 2 Kings 5. But the stories are not just told, they’re interpreted. Throughout the stories, and especially in the last paragraph of each, Sally Lloyd-Jones (no relation) shows how each story is part of God carrying out his “Secret Rescue Plan,” a plan that culminates in the Gift of Jesus. This isn’t just a storybook for children; it’s good theology. It helps us to see Christ as the centerpiece of all of Scripture, and how he was the point of God’s plan from the beginning.
I do need to point out that there are a few places where I found Lloyd-Jones’ paraphrase or summary of Scripture a little iffy. At the beginning of the Jonah story, for example, God tells Jonah, “Go to Ninevah and tell your worst enemies that I love them.” Now, this brings out something a lot of people don’t know, that Ninevah was the capital of Assyria and that Assyria was, in fact, the worst enemy of Israel. But the author of Jonah summarizes his call this way: “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me” (Jonah 1:2). Now, in a derivative way, this does show God’s love for Ninevah (after all, he could have just destroyed them), but it was a little far off from the text for my taste. There are several similar examples, and that’s a weak point of the book.
Overall, though, this book’s strengths vastly outweigh the weaknesses. It’s regular reading at our house, and I’ve been brought to tears a time or two reading it to Sam. It powerfully communicates God’s relentless pursuit of his people, and helps us to read the whole Bible as a story about Christ. As a bonus, the illustrations are fun, and I especially like that the characters aren’t blond-headed and blue-eyed; they look more like the actual people probably would have. This is a great one to have on the shelf as you try to raise kids who treasure God’s Word.