If you were to tell the story of Jesus, where would you begin? Each of the four gospels included in the New Testament begins differently.
Matthew lists ancestors before getting to Jesus’ birth.
An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham. – Matthew 1:1 NRSV
Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. – Matthew 1:18 NRSV
Mark forgoes any mention of birth, diving into Jesus’ life at the point of his baptism.
The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. – Mark 1:1 NRSV
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. – Mark 1:9 NRSV
After a prologue telling us why the book is written, Luke starts the story with a priest and his wife. Jesus doesn’t arrive until in the second chapter.
In the days of King Herod of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah. His wife was a descendant of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. – Luke 1:5 NRSV
And she [Mary] gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. – Luke 2:7 NRSV
John begins at the very beginning and poetically refers to Jesus’ birth.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the word was God. – John 1:1 NRSV
And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. – John 1:14 NRSV
I remember being a bit surprised when I realized that only two of the gospels include an account of Jesus’ natal day and they each have a unique take on what took place. We’ll ponder those another day.
For now, note that Mark is all business. No wasted words. The really important thing about Jesus is not where he came from. What is important is what he did and said and, crucially, where he ended up. The other gospels don’t disagree; all four include the crucifixion. (If I remember right, the crucifixion is one of just two stories found in all four gospels. The other is the feeding of the five thousand).
So, where would you begin the story of Jesus?
Or, at a more personal level, where would you begin telling your own story or the story of one you love? Birth? Parents? Ancestors? Accomplishments?
Until next time, Teressa