Bringing Baby Jesus Home Week #2

I hope you finished last week’s post feeling smarter and stronger in your understanding of God’s side of the Christmas story.

I love that He is a God of limitless power and yet He takes the time to keep us informed and prepared along the way. Reading scripture is like having a backstage pass when it comes to who God is, what He desires and what His plan is – it’s all very cool I have to admit.

This week we’ll take a lighter approach to our discoveries.  For now it’s all about perspective and we get to meet the four men who wrote down the many stories that occurred between Jesus’ birth and death.  I hope you have fun with this – it’s all so interesting and new to me – thanks for joining in and passing this along to your friends – now, let’s get started…

The first four books of the New Testament are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  They are called the four gospels (the word ‘gospel’ means good news).

Although each man brought a unique perspective to their writing, one thing is clear. Every gospel writer shows Jesus to be God’s Son.  The differences come when we see how each author portrayed Jesus coming to earth to be the son of man.

Meet the gospel writers:

Matthew was a tax collector before he became one of the first disciples called to be an Apostle (Matthew 9:1 and 10:1-4).  He had a front-row, eye-witness approach to each miracle and event that happened during Jesus’ ministry. Although Matthew recorded many of the same events as the other writers, he tended to focus more on Jesus’ explanation of God’s heavenly kingdom (for example: the Sermon on the Mount in chapter 5)

Mark wasn’t a member of the 12 disciples. He actually wrote down Peter’s account of who Jesus was, what He did and where He went.  Mark writes more like a Pastor trying to reach both the Jews and the Gentiles with the message that Jesus WAS the Messiah.

Luke was a doctor and he worked with Paul. Like any good physician, Luke liked research.  Through eye-witness testimonies and interviewing people who were with Jesus while He was on earth. Luke worked hard to dispute any rumors or false stories about Jesus.

John and his brother, James, were part of the 12 disciples and enjoyed a very intimate and close relationship with Jesus. John, James and Peter were able to see, hear and experience moments with Jesus that other disciples missed out on.  When Jesus was dying on the cross He committed His mother Mary to John (John 19:26-27).  John also lived longer than all the other writers and had a beautiful perspective when it came to Jesus’ teachings and how they impacted the church and society.

Now that we’ve met the players we have an opportunity to apply what we know to what we read about the Jesus’ birth. If you have your Bible close I’d encourage you to look at the beginning of each gospel as we discover the details involved in each. There’s something about seeing it ourselves that helps make these kind of discoveries permanent in our understanding and growth.

Matthew does a wonderful job of recording the genealogy of Jesus all the way from Abraham through David and finally to Joseph, “the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus” (Matthew 1:16).  Any Jew wondering about the prophecy from Isaiah would read this list of names and find concrete proof.  Matthew doesn’t tell us about Mary’s encounter with the angel.  He jumps right to Joseph and the situation surrounding their engagement, her pregnancy and the fulfillment of a virgin birth.

What Matthew might miss in the female side of this situation he makes up for  by telling us the story of the Magi visiting Jesus.  He is the ONLY gospel writer to record their visit and I love that he included it – I just wonder who told him about it! Some answers I just won’t know until I get to Heaven…or maybe one of you know? Please share if you do!

Mark gets right down to business and now that we know his background it makes sense. Paul and Mark were focused on winning people for Christ, so his gospel begins with the Isaiah prophesying that God would “send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare you way” (Isaiah 40:3). We meet John the Baptist (the messenger that God sent ahead of Jesus) and then we immediately meet Jesus as a 30-year-old man ready to being his ministry.

Luke’s medical background helps us appreciate his attention to detail concerning Mary and her baby’s development. Luke is the only writer that recognizes Elizabeth, John the Baptist’s mother.John the Baptist’s Father –  Zechariah – didn’t have the strongest faith. When the angel came to him with the news of Elizabeth bearing a son Zechariah responded: “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” (Luke 1:18).

I don’t know about you but I’d rather not hear my husband refer to me as “well along” – but this detail shows Luke’s appreciation for the fact that Elizabeth’s child-bearing years were most likely behind her and this was truly a work of the Holy Spirit.

When the angel came to Mary he not only told of her impending pregnancy, but the angel reminded her that she wasn’t alone: “Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:35-37)

I love that God knows what women need to hear. Mary needed to know that she wasn’t alone and she wasn’t the only experiencing a pregnancy miracle – what a wonderful story!

Luke also records one of my favorite passages when it comes to being a Mom and our response to pregnancy. In Luke 1:46-56 he writes down “Mary’s Song”. It’s a beautiful testimony and again, because of Luke’s attention to detail, we learn that Joseph and Mary are apart – Mary has been staying with Elizabeth.

When we’re pregnant we love hanging out with other pregnant friends. We all know how each other are feeling and we don’t feel so alone and overwhelmed. Mary had Elizabeth and I’m so glad Luke told that part of the story.

Remember that Luke is interviewing people – he’s like a good reporter gathering all the facts and perspectives he can. After telling us about the birth of John the Baptist Luke goes on to tell about the angels singing to the shepherds, Jesus being presented in the Temple and Simeon and we even follow Jesus during his 12th year of life. (Luke 2:41-52).

Can anyone think of a better reality television show than the one we’ve just read!?  It’s wonderful to hear the stories in different ways and I love that each man focused on certain details more than others. The Holy Spirit led these men in their writing and I think it’s a beautiful testimony to how well God knows His children.

Some of us need facts and concrete connections to the past to believe the present and future and that’s fine. While others want to see the humanity wrapped up in the supernatural.

I hope you not only learned something new, but found a greater connection to some of the characters involved in the telling of the Christmas story. Next week we’ll look at the shepherds and wise men and the role they played.

This is such a fascinating journey for me – I hope you are enjoying it too.  Thanks for sticking with me during this series and have a wonderful day!


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