Storytelling is an art form. There are skilled, novice, and outlandish artists. Each storyteller must decide where and how to start the story. The most common form of storytelling is purely chronological – from beginning to end. The Bible is basically chronological. The grand Storyteller, the Lord God himself, inspired authors across millennia to write out the story one piece at a time. This summer we are teaching a series called The Big Picture. We are going through the entire Bible in 10 weeks. Our goal is to help people understand the big picture of the story found in Scripture. The big picture of the Bible focuses on Jesus. Everything in the Bible is preparation for, proclamation of, or participation in the Gospel of Jesus. (Dave Harvey) The Bible is telling the good story, the good news, of Jesus Christ. From its beginning to its end, the focus of the Bible is Jesus. We chose to start, not with the beginning in Creation, but instead with the common condition we all know – brokenness. The Fall of Man recorded in Genesis 3 begins the reign of a common condition for every human, and therefore, the world itself. Brokenness is obvious and out of control. The broken nature of our world, it’s sinful choices and selfish actions, are both obvious to even those who are doing them and, most certainly, out of control towards those they are being acted upon. In Genesis 3 and 4 we see the fast progression of brokenness. A broken world is filled with broken people living in broken relationships with God and one another. Adam and Eve no longer savor the moments in the cool of the day when the Lord God walks in the Garden, instead they hide from him. Adam immediately blames Eve for the situation. Cain, in only the second generation of humanity, kills his brother because Abel gave a pure and holy sacrifice to God while Cain did not. Cain’s relationship was broken with God already because he was unwilling to give God his best and his first. His relationship with Able was obviously broken by murder. Sin is obvious and out of control in our world because it is obvious and out of control in each of our own individual lives. We see how quickly this escalates in Genesis 6 through the life of Noah. God says that he “was sorry he made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.” Yet Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation and he found favor in the eyes of the Lord. God spared humanity because he spared a righteous, yet imperfect man. The problem was that humanity had evil intention in all his thoughts. The essence of sin is rebellion against God and replacement of God. The story continues at the Tower of Babel where people decide to make their own way to Heaven and to make their own name great. God scatters humanity around the world and confuses their language so they might not attempt such an endeavor again. What do all these stories teach us? We are broken because we are in rebellion against God desiring to replace him with ourselves. The crafty serpent offers that place to Eve. He says if you eat of the fruit “you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Unfortunately that was true. We are like God in that we now know good and evil, but knowing evil means, for us, doing evil. In sin, we attempt to take God’s place…and the result is brokenness. On the Cross, Jesus did take our place…and the result is reconciliation. The reconciling and restoring nature of God is seen in every story. As Adam and Eve leave the Garden, God covers their nakedness and shame with the skin of a slain animal. He shed blood so their sin and shame might be covered. After Cain killed Abel and was banished from connection with others, God marked him so no one would take vengeance upon him. This marking is often mislabeled as a mark of sin. It is actually a mark of grace. It is God’s ongoing protection of Cain. After Noah leaves the Ark with scarce resources needed to repopulate the planet, he takes some of the clean animals and sacrifices them. He offers a pleasing sacrifice to God and God gives humanity a promise of not flooding the world again with a rainbow. At the Tower of Babel God disperses humanity not out of pride but out of grace. He desires what is best for them and he realizes that they will not seek that together. They will choose to seek self instead of Him, and he is best for them. God has always been gracious, yet he has also always been just. Jesus offers his life as one sacrifice for the sanctification of all for all time. He took our place. He replaced us with Himself. Brokenness is a condition we all share, but restoration is a promise we are all given.