24th December 2010

Three Nativity Stories

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.”
John 1:1, 14 (NKJV)

The Gospels contain three very different nativity stories of the birth of Jesus. These were written to different audiences and for different reasons.

Matthew was writing to a mainly Jewish audience and so his account contains a genealogy showing Jesus to be the “Son of David”, and relates many prophecies fulfilled by his life, establishing him as the longed-for Messiah.

Luke was a Gentile himself and says that he set out to tell the story in order or chronologically, and so his account begins with the conception and birth of John the Baptist. Luke’s genealogy goes back to Adam, establishing Jesus as the “Son of Man”, and therefore the Saviour of all mankind regardless of race.

Mark does not contain an account of Jesus’ birth but launches straight into his baptism and ministry.

Many would not recognise John’s account as a nativity story, and yet John 1 contains a profound account of the birth of Jesus as the “Son of God”. John writes much later, after the fall of Jerusalem, the destruction of the temple and the scattering of the Jews into other nations. The controversies of Jew/Gentile were no longer an issue in the Christian Church, and he is writing mainly to a Greek-speaking, philosophical people. So his account begins back before King David, before Adam, to the Beginning, the First Cause, the Word who spoke everything into existence, and who became flesh and dwelt among men: Jesus, born as a baby to grow and live among men as a shining light, as the Way, the Life and the Truth.

John deals more with the spiritual reality of the Nativity, while Matthew and Luke bring the physical aspects of the birth and life of Jesus. The three accounts together give us a more complete and profound understanding of this momentous event that facilitates our Salvation and Eternal Life as Jesus’ brothers and sisters (Mark 3:33-35 with Romans 8:28-29), and as sons and daughters of God (John 1:12).

Prayer
Father in Heaven, at this time of year as we contemplate and rejoice over the birth of your Son, let us read anew the wondrous story that makes it possible for us to be born again as your sons and daughters.
Amen

Study by Nancy Silcox 

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