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A Bible bonsai

Whenever I get the chance to visit a plant nursery, I inevitably gravitate toward the shelf that holds the bonsais. I’m not sure what it is about these little miniature trees that makes them so fascinating. Is it their proportionate likeness to their full-size cousins? Or the sense that they carry the weight of the years upon their tiny boughs? Or the precision of their manicured form? Or their price tag, which seems to be in inverse proportion to their size!

Someone once asked the great theologian James Packer for a bonsai version of the Bible. He was asked if he could suggest a three-word summary of the New Testament, and provided an answer in his well-known book, Knowing God, in these words: ‘Adoption through propitiation’. The phrase has always struck me as something beautiful as to its elegant expression, and something impressive as to its theological weight, and something wonderful as to its essential message.

For this is the grand message of the Bible. That by the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, we can become children of God. In fact, this is the grand purpose for which God sent His Son – to bear the cost, so that a chair could be pulled out, in order for us to be seated at the family table. It’s funny to think that the Bible can be summarized in such a short phrase without losing its proportion or precision, but that’s what makes bonsais so fascinating.

DM 30th April 2022

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