As I’ve mentioned before, I’m working with Crossway on a children’s storybook Bible. The look and feel will be akin to The Biggest Story, but instead of covering the plot line of Scripture in one fell swoop, this will be a much bigger book with more than 100 Bible stories, like the one below. I’m thrilled to be working again with the extremely talented Don Clark, who will be providing the artwork to accompany my text. The book is scheduled to be released at the end of 2020 or beginning of 2021.
The beginning of the Bible began with, well, a beginning. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” That’s the first verse in Genesis, the first book of the Bible.
The New Testament begins with another beginning. “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ.” That’s the first verse in Matthew, the first book in the New Testament. “Genealogy” is a big word that has to do with tracing out your family tree. And that’s what we see at the start of the New Testament.
But here’s something special that your parents may not even know. The word that Matthew used when he wrote the verse is actually the word “genesis.” That’s right. Just like the first book of the Bible. The story Matthew wants to tell is about a new start, a new genesis, a new beginning.
Except this new beginning is definitely still connected to the old beginning. Jesus didn’t come out of nowhere, like a baby just fell from the sky (that would hurt). He wasn’t created with a magic wand or in a science lab. Jesus was a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He was from the tribe of Judah and the house of David. He had in his family tree mothers with strange stories like Tamar, amazing stories like Ruth, and sad stories like Bathsheba. Jesus was a real Jewish boy born into a real Jewish family with a real genealogy full of real promises and real people with real problems.
Jesus was just like us.
And he was unlike us. That’s how things work when you are God and man. Jesus was born like boys and girls are born, but his birth was unlike any before or since.
Mary and Joseph were engaged to be married. But before they even had a wedding, Mary was pregnant! This didn’t seem right, so Joseph had a plan to quietly breakup with Mary.
But before he could do that, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife. She’s not done anything wrong. The child in her belly is from the Holy Spirit.” If that wasn’t enough to make Joseph drop his hammer on his big toe, the angel had more to say. “Mary is going to have a son, and you should call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
Things were about to happen that people had hoped to see happen for a long time. Centuries earlier the prophet Isaiah predicted that a virgin would have a son and he would be called Immanuel, God with us. In other words, a young woman with no earthly way to be pregnant would give birth to a heavenly child.
Joseph woke up and did everything the angel told him to do. Mary had a son, and they named him Jesus, meaning “the Lord saves.” That was the perfect name for a perfect Savior—and a perfect new beginning to the story God had been writing even before the beginning of time.