Dennis E. Johnson
Reviewed by: Jeremy C. Jones
Date posted: 03/19/2017
Walking with Jesus through His Word: Discovering Christ in All the Scriptures, by Dennis E. Johnson. P&R Publishing, 2015. Paperback, 320 pages, list price 16.99. Reviewed by OP pastor Jeremy C. Jones.
In Walking with Jesus through His Word, Dennis E. Johnson, a professor at Westminster Seminary California, has provided students of the Bible an excellent resource for understanding how the central plotline of God’s redemptive work unfolds in Scripture.
Johnson structures his book around the extended metaphor of a journey. He draws on the analogy made popular by Charles Spurgeon that compares Holy Scripture to the network of roads and trails in England. From any hamlet or village in England, there is a path that leads to London. So too, wherever you are in Scripture, there is a path that leads to the metropolis, which is Christ. Johnson helps us discover the pathways and pointers to Christ that are embedded in Scripture itself, and he warns us against trying to blaze our own fanciful trails to Christ.
In the opening chapter, we see that this approach to reading Scripture is the approach that Jesus himself employed and taught his disciples. In chapter 2, Johnson orients the reader in the original context of Scripture. In order to find your destination, it is important to know your point of origin.
Some roads to Christ are obvious. Whenever the New Testament applies Old Testament passages to Christ, we are given clear road signs directing us to him (chapter 3). At other times, the route is less obvious. Johnson shows (in chapters 4–6) how God’s covenantal dealings with his people provide the reader-traveler with a path through Scripture that inevitably leads to Jesus (chapter 6). In a third category are landmarks that orient the reader. Johnson identifies the offices of prophet (chapter 7), priest (chapter 8), and king (chapter 9) as the distinctive landmarks in Scripture that help us get our bearings and point us to Christ.
Johnson makes clear that these connections to Christ are neither the clever inventions of preachers nor the imaginative rereading of the Old Testament by New Testament writers in light of the resurrection of Christ. The patterns that point to Christ are the result of the sovereign Lord, who is the one author of both Scripture and history.
Walking with Jesus is accessible without being simplistic. In addition to providing sound principles of interpretation, chapters 2–9 conclude with examples of how to put these principles to work in specific passages. Also, every chapter concludes with engaging discussion questions, profitable for both individual and small group use.
The book aims at doing more than just providing techniques and tips for reading the Bible. It aims to bring the reader to the Christ revealed in Scripture, to walk with Jesus through his Word as the disciples walked with him on the road to Emmaus on the first resurrection Sunday, opening their eyes and setting their hearts aflame. The goal of this exercise, as chapter 10 makes clear, is that we might be transformed into Christ’s likeness as we behold his glory.
Wherever you are in your journey through God’s Word, you will be well served by reading Johnson’s Walking with Jesus through His Word.