Four Viewpoints on the Birth of Jesus
December 14, 2003
The four gospel accounts of Jesus’ birth.
I may be “at a loss for words”, but God is not.
God was so proud of his son’s birth that he used four different reporters to tell us about it.
And not only that, because God has something for everyone in Jesus, he uses his four reporters to tell us about it in strikingly different terms.
Perhaps you have heard it said that John’s gospel is of universal appeal, Mark speaks to the Roman mind, Luke speaks to the Greek mind, and Matthew speaks to the Jew.
If you aren’t convinced of this world-shattering news in one way, you might be in another.
God is quite versatile on his approach but quite singular in his effect.
The good news is that God entered the dangerous world of man to save him from the terrorism of the devil.
The battle is for your eternal soul – the universal man, the Roman, the Greek, the Jew.
You must receive Jesus by faith, but which approach will work best to convince you?
Is it God’s own logic and wisdom that appeals best to you? Theology?
Are you one who likes to go straight to the top and dispense with the middleman?
No retail for you. You want wholesale. Better yet, you go straight to the manufacturer.
If divine argument is what you understand, then the gospel of John is for you. We just read and sang about it.
Read: John 1:1-4, 14
John opens his gospel by proclaiming that Jesus Christ is the Word of God that has come into the world.
The Word of God has been born to man.
Christ is an irrefutable argument. He is a divine reality. He is the fulfillment of all prophecy – the Word of God made flesh.
He has come as the light of truth to invade, expose, and cleanse the darkness of your soul.
The true lover of truth will find he cannot deny the truth of Christ because there is the witness of divine reason – the witness of God’s infinite wisdom, the argument of God’s logic.
Mark opens his gospel with a different approach.
Read: Mark 1:1-5, 7-8
Mark begins straight-away with the power of God proclaimed in prophecy.
It is about John the Baptist coming to prepare the way for Christ to be received in ministry.
John Baptist called people to repentance and forgiveness of sins, but he frames this in the power of God. He said, “After me will come one more powerful than I.”
In fact, he continued to say that he was even unworthy to be compared to him.
And furthermore, John said that Jesus would come with the power of God in the Holy Spirit.
And he witnessed this power of God that audibly and visibly came upon Christ when he baptized him.
Why did Mark use the “power” approach? He was speaking to the Roman who only understood power.
The Roman needed to understand that his political and military power was incomparable to the Christ.
So, are you one who only understands something when you are face to face without recourse?
No wimpy Jesus for you. You want a man you can follow into battle – a man you can respect – a man who is proven and victorious – a man who can stand up to anything in the universe without flinching – a “no guts, no glory” kind of God.
You need a centurion named Savior. Better yet, you need an emperor who really is God.
Read: Luke 1:1-4
Luke begins his gospel with human logic. He does this because he is writing foremost to the Greek mind.
The Greeks, as you probably know, loved such things as philosophy and debate – an authoritative, humanistic approach, if you will.
So Luke draws up an orderly account of verifiable eyewitness history, tried and proven for our own certainty about Christ.
He lays it out so the Greek won’t have to debate for long. These are irrefutable facts.
Are you from Missouri, the “show me” state? You will listen to Luke.
You aren’t necessarily turned on by abstracts of theology or God’s logic, as in John, or by abstracts of God’s power, as in Mark.
You need the facts, “Just the facts, ma’am,” as Sergeant Friday used to say.
But we have one more gospel, the gospel of Matthew. And this one is pointed toward the ones hardest of all to convince – God’s own people, the Jews.
Why were they hard to convince? Because they thought they knew just about all there was to know about God.
Proof for them came in the form of genealogy – the “who’s who” of the generations of man.
For God’s own purposes he had planted in the Jew a zeal for lineage because through them would be tracked the identity of the Messiah to come.
He must be descended from Abraham, the father of the Jews.
He must be descended from David, the king of the Jews.
Read: Matthew 1:1, 17
Jesus was no illegitimate child. His mother and father were people of substance – not materially, but spiritually.
This was the perfect “fit” the Jew had been waiting for.
Are you one that needs to know where a person comes from before you listen to him seriously? To you, status and station in life matters.
After all, you can name your own ancestors back generations to the Old Country, and there are some famous people in there. You have some personal pride, you know.
Is “good breeding” a serious issue for you? You wouldn’t elect a skid row bum to be president now, would you?
The Messiah can’t be just anybody.
So what is the problem with the Jew?
It is like John said in his gospel (John 1:5, 10-13), the darkness has not understood the light. The world has not recognized God.
Has pride has blinded your eyes to such a degree that you think you do not need a Savior, even when God shows him to you?
But we are here to proclaim to you this day as the angels told the shepherds –
“10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11 NIVUS)
And John proclaims –
“12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:12-13 NIVUS)
So on this day when we celebrate that God was born of us, will you be born of God?
Will you receive the Christ-child this Christmas?
Has this message of children brought you to your knees as a child to receive what they have?
Do not delay. There may not come another day.
John, Mark, Luke and Matthew have given you four arguments you can’t refuse: God’s own logic, God’s own power, man’s logic, man’s lineage.
What else do you need? What else are you waiting for – the sky to fall in?
God’s Word says something about that too.
Come to him now and forever hold your peace and his.
The Christ-child is King!