If you wanted to tell the greatest story ever told what would you emphasize as a writer? As I reflected on the introductory thoughts by Eugene Peterson before each of the gospels in his translation, The Message, it became clearer to me what each writer was trying to get across. It also became a comfort as I considered what that emphasis meant on a personal level. How is the gift of Immanuel – God with us conveyed in each case?
Matthew – God has been at work a long time – a master plan – we are in the middle of this plan – we are not accidental or incidental – Christ’s birth gives us meaning, orientation, connection to past and future.
Mark – doesn’t even talk about the birth – gets right down to business – God is here and he is on our side, he is passionate to save us – we can live in reality with hope.
Luke – as the only non Jewish New Testament writer, Luke the outsider shows how Jesus came to include all who were previously excluded from the “in club” – women, the poor, the racially different (the Samaritans), and those of lower status (shepherds). Jesus came to make all of us belong and fit in and breaks down all earthly and man-made barriers.
John – emphasizes the word – creation is spoken into existence, God speaks salvation into existence through the person of Jesus, Jesus speaks to us and invites us into a relationship with him. Are our words back to him “ I believe – I want to live in relationship with you?”
The words of hope and comfort in summary from these four gospels are:
We are part of God’s plan – he has a plan for each of us.
God is passionate to save us – we live in hope.
Through Jesus we are made to belong and are here to extend that gift to others.
The Word most of all wants relationship with us. How are we responding?
“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.”
John 1:14 in The Message.
Thank you for coming to be with us, for giving us hope now and for the future, for including us, for desiring a relationship with us – how can we begin to say thanks for these unbelievable gifts.
You have been and promise to be with us through all our trials and the brokenness of this world – thank you for being with us, for being our comfort. Despite the worst that this world can hand us, we thank you for the deep down joy we know from knowing you and living in hope. Amen!