Start With Jesus, Not Genesis

Are you new to reading the Bible? Perhaps you are not a Christian or a new one and you wan to crack open a Bible. If you were picking up another book you would be right to start at page 1 and move to the end. Not with the Bible, however. You could do that (no one will stop you!). But the Bible is a different kind of book. Because of that, it would be a while before you read about life and work of the central subject of the Bible: Jesus Christ.

Genesis is the first book in the Old Testament (the part of the Bible from Genesis to Malachi). The Old Testament tells us the story of God’s people Israel, and at the end, the reader (Jewish or otherwise) is left wondering, “HOLD THE PHONE! Isn’t there more! This is not a happy ending!”

We feel that way precisely because it was never meant to be the ending. There is supposed to be more. And we get more in the New Testament.

The New Testament, specifically the person of Jesus Christ, is the fulfillment to the Old Testament. As Christians, we start and finish with Jesus. He gives shape and fullness to the entire biblical story. Christian faith is about him. There is good stuff in the Old Testament. Important stuff. Foundational stuff. There are lessons to be learned and warnings to heed. But it is all for naught without a proper understanding of, love for, and allegiance to Jesus.

Listen to what theologian Graeme Goldsworthy says in his masterful book According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible:

As Christians, we do not start at Genesis 1 and work our way forward until we discover where it’s all leading. Rather we first come to Christ, and he directs us to study the Old Testament in the light of the gospel. The gospel will interpret the Old Testament by showing us its goal and meaning. The Old Testament will increase our understanding of the gospel by showing us what Christ fulfills.

Simply, if you start with the Old Testament, you’ll get the Old Testament and miss Jesus. But start with Jesus and you’ll find him. And, with him, the purpose, meaning, and significance of everything else will be thrown in.