The Greatest Story Ever Told
By Art Brammer
About the program:
We used this very simple program as a Sunday morning service. Pastor Art introduced the 5 Bible characters and summed it up at the end. Five men dressed as Bible characters read their parts in turn. This gives an idea of what he did. You can adapt it to fit your own situation. The seed thoughts for this program come from Luke 10:23-24 and 1Peter 1:10-12. The Bible references in gray font are for reference only and don’t need to be read.
We used the NKJV translation for the Bible references, but you can use whichever translation you want.
“The Greatest List” with John 3: 16 was adapted from an unknown author. You can find the original list here: https://rachelwojo.com/god-loved-greatest-list/ We used PowerPoint slides for “The Greatest List.”
We used “The Greatest Story Ever Told” as a simple choir song. You can find the music here: https://www.majestymusic.com/the-greatest-story-ever-told-piano-vocal-printable-download.html
Pastor or Narrator:
When I talk about “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” I have to begin by making something clear. We all like stories. “Once upon a time there lived a….” We know some stories aren’t true right away. There are some elements in our Greatest Story that seem unbelievable, and so some people have the idea that they are like the fairy tales. In our Greatest Story we have a virgin birth, healing hundreds of sick people with the touch of a hand or a word of command, feeding thousands of people from just a few loaves and fish, raising dead people back to life. These kinds of things don’t happen in our day so many people think they didn’t happen 2000 years ago. These are miracles: supernatural things that God did to demonstrate the uniqueness of His Son Jesus Christ. They are part of the Greatest Story, but not the central part.
The Greatest Story Ever Told is found in the Bible. It starts in the distant past (the book of Genesis) and it tells about things yet in the future (the book of Revelation). The Bible has one main focus – to introduce us to Jesus Christ. We don’t have time to read the whole book, but I want to introduce you to several men who had a part in writing this story. I want them to tell about their experience in contributing to this Greatest Story Ever Told.
God prepared me in a unique way. I was born a Jew but was raised in the household of Pharaoh. The Egyptian princess gave me my name: Moses! I knew God had a special task for me to do, but I didn’t know how unprepared I was for it. I thought I was ready to be a leader at age 40, but then God took me to the wilderness for 40 years to teach me humility and dependence on Him. Leading the children of Israel out of Egypt was the work I was best known for. I called this rod “the rod of God.” It was very useful for me. But it was with another instrument in my hand, a pen, that I contributed to The Greatest Story.
I wrote the first 5 books of the Bible. In those books I wrote some things about Jesus. Of course I didn’t know His name then. There were a lot of things I didn’t know about Him, but in telling the early history of the world and the Jews, God had revealed some things about this One who would be the central figure of human history.
After Adam and Eve sinned, God punished the serpent saying, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” (Gen 3:15) The “Seed” of the woman, a future descendant, was Jesus. He would destroy Satan and resolve the sin problem.
When Abraham was chosen as the Father of the Jewish nation, God told him “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Gen 12:3) The New Testament tells us that that phrase was speaking of the gospel of Jesus (Gal 3:8).
I also wrote in Genesis and Numbers other prophecies of the Messiah spoken by Jacob (Gen 49:10) and Balaam (Num 24:17).
But there was another thing that God told me … and it astounded me. He told me to tell the people: “The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear” (Deut 18:15). This “Prophet” (Jesus) would be like me! I am so unworthy to be compared to Jesus. I was not a perfect leader. But Jesus is the perfectly sinless One.
My name is David. You have probably heard of me as King David, but I began as “Nobody David,” the least in my father’s house. And my father’s house was an insignificant family in Israel. But God chose me to be the next king after Saul. That was amazing. God led me to do some pretty amazing things, like killing Goliath.
I loved God with all my heart. In your Bible I am called the man after God’s own heart. However, I messed up sometimes as a king. So I was quite surprised when God told me about His plan for my family. He promised me that He would establish my family as a ruling dynasty In Israel. But more than that, He said, “I will set up your seed after you…and I will establish his throne forever.” (1 Chron 17:11-12) That’s talking about Jesus. One of the names Jesus is called by is “the Son of David” (Mk 10:47). I was undeserving of this honor; this was the grace and goodness of God.
You probably know that I wrote some of the Psalms – songs of repentance, songs of deliverance, and sometimes cries of desperation. In the Psalms written by me you will find a few prophecies of Jesus. In Psalm 22 I wrote about His death on the cross. “All My bones are out of joint … they pierced My hands and My feet … they divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots” (v. 14, 16, 18). Those things were fulfilled at the crucifixion.
But I also wrote another prophecy: “For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.” (Psa 16:10) My Lord and Son, Jesus, was put in the grave after He was taken down from the cross, but He didn’t stay there. He came out of the grave with power, and in glory. One thousand years before Jesus was born I wrote about His death and resurrection. Why those two things? Because they were the most important things that happened in the 33 years of His life.
I am privileged to be one of the writers of the Greatest Story Ever Told but to tell the truth, there were a lot of things about this story I was confused about. I just passed along things that God told me. I am a prophet; my name is Isaiah. I lived about 700 years before the Man that I wrote about.
Our Jewish nation had anticipated the one we called the Messiah, the one who would be heir to David’s kingdom. God revealed some pretty amazing things to me about the Messiah:
- that He would be born of a virgin and His name would be called “Immanuel” which means “God with us” (7:14)
- that there were various other names He could be called by like “Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (9:6) These names just stretched my mind beyond what I could imagine!
- that not only would He gather all Israel from being scattered over the face of the earth, but that He would also gather Gentiles—(Imagine that!)—and they would joyfully bow before Him (11:10), and
- that He would create a new heavens and earth in which kids could play with wild animals and poisonous snakes and not get hurt; but even better than that, that righteousness would fill the whole earth. (chap 11, 65)
Those were wonderful revelations about the Messiah, but there were other things that God revealed to me about the Messiah that were puzzling. He would be called the “Servant.” The King would be a Servant? But more inexplicable than that – He would be a suffering Servant (“a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief,” 53:3). God revealed through me that this suffering Servant would die because of our sins: “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (53:5-6)
You can imagine how perplexed I was at this revelation. This One known as Immanuel and Mighty God would be beaten, and wounded and die because of my sins and the sins of mankind. That’s what God showed me. Though I was perplexed when these things were revealed to me, I have since discovered the wonderful part in His horrible death: He loved us so much that He was willing to die for us.
I am a scientific man, a physician. I am not a Jew by birth. But I began to hear stories of this Man called Jesus. The things they were saying about Him were fantastic, to the point of being almost unbelievable. They said He healed people that doctors couldn’t cure. He didn’t heal them with medicines or medical procedures, but by touching them or commanding the sickness to be gone. In my mind I said, “No way! No one can do that!”
But then I had the opportunity to look into these things. I approached this task with a desire to uncover the truth and make it known. I discovered that all the stories were true! As I say in the introduction to my Gospel (the Gospel of Luke), there were some “who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word.” (Luke 1:2) I was not an eyewitness to the events I recorded, but “it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account” (Luke 1:3).
My “perfect understanding” came from talking to all sorts of people. I not only talked to dozens of people who Jesus had healed, I talked to their neighbors and even their doctors, if I could find them. When I talked to people who formerly had been blind, mute, deaf, or lame, these people were all grateful followers of Jesus. They obviously had been changed by Him, not just a physical change, but a spiritual change.
At the beginning, when I first heard about Jesus, I didn’t expect to find that the stories were true. I didn’t expect that I’d discover other kinds of miraculous things that He had done, like raising the dead! I didn’t expect to become His follower. But I am His follower and He is my Great Physician. He healed my sinful heart and gave health to my soul.
If I hadn’t seen everything the things Jesus did with my own eyes, I would probably be as skeptical as some people are today. Luke gathered his material from second hand sources, but I had the privilege of being one of the 12 disciples Jesus chose. I was one of those he talked about being “eyewitnesses.” I wrote the Gospel of John. I saw Jesus healing all those people. I was with Him when He raised a boy, and Jairus’ daughter and Lazarus from death.
Jesus continually astounded us disciples with His power and compassion, but He didn’t do miracles to impress people. He did them to help people, to relieve human suffering. Though He relieved the suffering of others, He endured even greater suffering Himself. I had heard Jesus say He would die and be resurrected. I didn’t understand it at the time. Even though He foretold it, still His death on the cross shocked me. But when I followed Peter into the empty tomb, I knew He had been resurrected. I wrote in my Gospel that I “saw and believed.” (John 20:8) But even then I didn’t understand. I knew He was alive but I didn’t know in what form.
That night when the other disciples and I got together to talk, suddenly Jesus appeared in our midst. He didn’t open the door before He came in. One second He wasn’t there and the next He was. We all thought it was His ghost! (Like maybe He was up in heaven, but He sent His spirit down.) But it was really Him. He showed us His hands and His side where He had the scars of the crucifixion. (John 20:20) He said, “Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.” (Luke 24:39) He even ate some food to prove He wasn’t a ghost.
I begin my Gospel by saying, “In the beginning was the Word; and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1) Jesus is “the Word.” “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). God lived in our midst. It was as Isaiah wrote: “Immanuel … God with us!”
In the first epistle I wrote (First John) I said, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life.” (John 1:1) I “handled” God, God the Son. I am not only an eyewitness, I am a hand-witness. This story, The Greatest Story Ever Told, is true. I am privileged to have been a witness to it all.
Pastor or Narrator:
Finally, let’s look at John 3:16 in the context of Jesus’ life being “The Greatest Story Ever Told.”
For God – the greatest Lover (“God is love,” He is characterized by love, His actions define love and help us know what love is.)
so loved – the greatest degree (He not only “loved the world,” but loved it enough to motivate His actions of the world’s behalf.)
the world – the greatest company (We are not “great” in our achievements or goodness, as if we were worthy of God’s favor, but great in number—billions!)
that He gave – the greatest action (Consider what the Father gave His Son to do for the world. Think of the horrible death on Calvary where the Father had to turn His back on the Son because He was the sin-bearer. Romans 8:32)
His only begotten Son – the greatest gift (The Son Himself was a ‘gift’ to the world. Consider all the good Jesus did, as well as His greatest work that provided salvation.)
that whoever – the greatest opportunity (This is available to anyone and everyone! No one is beyond the hope & help of Jesus.)
believes in Him – the greatest simplicity (We do not work for our salvation, we simply believe that His death was for us.)
should not perish – the greatest assurance (We escape spiritual death, being separated from God forever in torments.)
but – the greatest difference (The phrases on either side of this word convey the greatest contrast possible.)
have – the greatest promise (Those who believe possess salvation.)
everlasting life – the greatest blessing (His salvation allows us to live with God forever in a place of blessing and peace.)
The greatest Lover loved to the greatest extent the greatest company and took the greatest action in giving the greatest Gift, thus presenting the greatest opportunity in the greatest simplicity, and with the greatest assurance to produce the greatest difference according to the greatest promise for the greatest blessing.
This is the story of Jesus, “The Greatest Story Ever Told.” Do you know Him as your Savior today?