For the last 25 years, as a pastor and teacher, I’ve spent a lot of time with people who have wanted to know, but have struggled to see, how the Bible was more than just an important old book with some good things to say, or how the Old and New Testaments fit together, or whether the thousands of verses were even relevant or true. I have treasured these conversations… because I truly believe that the Bible is the source of our discovery of Jesus. And nothing and no one is more true, relevant, uniting, good, or important as Jesus.
For many people the Bible can seem intimidating. It is a big book! It contains some challenging passages that can be difficult to absorb and some long lists of names that can be difficult to pronounce. It is a book with dozens of “books” within it, including one named Habbakuk and another named Haggai and another named Philemon. And even though it is the most read and most famous and most produced book in history, it can still seem daunting to know where to start or how to read the Bible. Just popping open the binding and plopping down a finger on a random passage doesn’t always help people understand the cohesive and powerful story of a God who so loved this world that he sent his One and Only Son.
And yet it is actually so very simple that we too often overlook the point. At its very core the Bible, and how we read it, is all about Jesus.
So the team at Group Publishing set out to encourage people to read the Bible with the simple goal of getting to know Jesus. Rick Lawrence invited me to join in… and the privilege of working on this project became one of the highlights of my life. What resulted from a lot of hard work, a passionately determined team, and some profound moments in the presence of God’s Spirit, is The Jesus Centered Bible (releasing September 1, 2015).
All of the notes and sidebars and study guides through every page of the Jesus Centered Bible are filtered through a lens of discovering Jesus. Every time its pages are turned, a personal invitation beckons readers to get to know Jesus more and more.
Some might wonder, “What? Don’t these people understand that the Bible is already Jesus-Centered?” Yes! That’s actually the point. In the distractions of our lives we can mistakingly search the Bible without noticing Jesus. As the winds of life blow, we can tend to take our eyes off of him and look around for other things, even in the Scriptures. But the Bible, from the beginning to end, is by its very purpose and nature about encountering Jesus and learning to walk today, tomorrow and forever with him.
In working on this project, we have tried to imagine ourselves embedded in some of the marvelous conversations, like these from the first chapter of John and the last chapter of Luke, where people were awe-struck by their discovery of Jesus:
We found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus. (John 1:45)
Then Jesus quoted passages from the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining what all the Scriptures said about himself. (Luke 24:27)
As this Bible is released, our desire is that every person could dig deeply into the living and active Word of God… and, in doing so, find the Breath of God at work deeply within them. Our prayer, simply, is that this Bible will become a refreshing way for many people, some of whom have never encountered Jesus, to see who he is, how he is woven throughout Scripture from Genesis through Revelation, and how we can orbit our lives in a gravitational pull around him.
Every page of the Jesus-Centered Bible opens your eyes to fresh ways of seeing the Savior. And the closer you get to Jesus, the more you discover your true identity and purpose in life. You’ll finally see how every part of your life can revolve around Jesus himself.
The Jesus-Centered Bible gives you an extraordinary Scripture experience that draws you to Jesus in unexpected ways. It’s the first-ever Bible that reveals the influence of Jesus in every book, highlighting how the Old Testament points to Jesus and how all the New Testament reveals Jesus. When you read the Bible in a Jesus-centered way, it’s a transforming experience. You’ll dive into Jesus’ story from extraordinary and surprising perspectives. You’ll discover just how much Jesus saturates page after page of the Bible, from beginning to end. You’ll never look at Scripture the same way again.
- Blue-Letter Text reveals hundreds and hundreds of Old Testament connections to Jesus, with short explanations tied to each reference that show how Jesus is the focal point for all of the Bible’s narrative.
- Jesus In Every Book introductions for Old and New Testament books, written by renowned authors and leaders who are well-known for their focus on Jesus, draw you closer to Jesus as you discover how all of Scripture connects to him.
- Reframing Jesus Insights take you far beyond the “Sunday school” Jesus into the surprising back-stories and cultural contexts of the real people, places, and social forces that formed the geography of Jesus’ ministry.
- Jesus Answers Life’s Essential Questions, short essays that focus on the way Jesus tackles our deepest longings for meaning and purpose in life, help you tackle your uncertainties head-on and make sense of your personal struggles, doubts, and fears.
- The Jesus Questions will draw you closer to Jesus and others through provocative and surprising discussion-starters about Jesus and his influence on our lives.
- The Red-Letter Names of Jesus focus on the “red thread” of Jesus through the rest of the New Testament by highlighting in red every time his name is mentioned, including all of the “nicknames” the writers of the Bible use for him.
Unique Features include:
- Hundreds and hundreds of blue-letter highlighted texts in the Old Testament, with boxed explanations that describe the connection to Jesus.
- Jesus’ name, titles, and “nicknames” in red throughout the New Testament
- NLT Dictionary/Concordance
- How Jesus answers 9 of life’s biggest questions—find your hope, meaning, & purpose
- A “Get to Know Jesus” one-chapter-a-day Bible reading plan
The Jesus Centered Bible – link to the publisher page
Note added 9/6/15: By the way, I don’t receive any royalties for the Jesus-Centered Bible.