While including thousands of stories, the Bible actually tells one long story. The individual narratives – like Noah and the big boat, Jonah
The larger story does not diminish the smaller ones; instead, it brings them to life in a way that makes them powerful to transform us. Many Christians in our context –
Despite the value of Aesop’s writing for teaching and illustrating good character, it is entirely different than biblical narrative. First, the Bible’s stories are true. Noah was an actual person who built an actual boat and survived an actual flood. Jonah was a real person who jumped into a real sea and was swallowed by a real fish. Fundamentally, the Bible is not a book of fables.
But second and perhaps more importantly, Aesop’s fables and the Bible’s stories are more profoundly different at the level of purpose. While the Bible contains wisdom for life and numerous good and bad examples to apply it, the purpose of its story-telling is much grander than making moralistic humans. The Bible is using these stories to reveal God and His grand plan to establish a Kingdom on the earth by saving sinners from His wrath. To be sure, we should acknowledge, applaud, and even emulate wise living. But a careful read of the Bible yields the distinct impression that none of the characters in the story are worth emulating. This thread of weakness and failure is not incidental; rather, it’s at the very heart of each individual story and the grand story. These men and women reveal our utter hopelessness and drive us to trust in God as our only hope. The point of Bible stories is not to encourage us to be
This grand narrative culminates in one Person who is the perfect example of wise living fulfilling God’s standard in every way. Of course, this One is Jesus. But even He is not shown primarily as a model to follow; instead, He is presented as altogether different than every other person in the narrative. The stories about Him in the Gospels don’t so much call us to be like Him as much as they demonstrate how unlike Him we really are. While there is a call to follow Him and pattern our lives after His, that call is grounded in the unique work He did to die for our sin and rise from the dead. He becomes a model for us only after we acknowledge our hopelessness, embrace Him by faith, and receive the Holy Spirit. Then, and only then, do we have ability or power to follow His example.
So why does all this matter? Because as your pastor I don’t merely want