The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. – Matthew 1:1
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. – Mark 1:1
Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught. – Luke 1:1-4
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. – John 1:1-5
Each of the four gospels was written from a different perspective to a different audience with a different objective in mind. Obviously, they were all intended to tell the story of Jesus, but their point in the telling was different. I am fascinated to see what different things we learn about God just from the introductions to each of the gospels.
Matthew’s single sentence has huge implications. “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” Jesus is identified with David and Abraham, two of the biggest characters in covenant history. They are the recipients of the two most significant covenants of the Old Testament period as far as I am concerned. (No, I didn’t forget Moses.)
Abraham is the father of the people of faith. His covenant is the prototype of the New Covenant, a covenant purely of grace and brings justification. Jesus is the seed of Abraham, the one to inherit the promises to Abraham. We participate in those promises only by being in Christ, the seed of Abraham.
David is the recipient of the covenant that guarantees a king to sit on the throne of the Kingdom of God. It is also a covenant of grace. We have previously written about the fact that this covenant had both a conditional and unconditional dimension to it. But it is a covenant that is forever and cannot be overthrown. Of course, Jesus is the true son of David who now sits on that throne and rules in the heavenlies and will eventually rule on earth.
Mark begins with the simple statement that Jesus in the Son of God. No small statement. Jesus Christ is being identified as God in the first sentence of Mark’s gospel. What more does one need to know about Jesus?
Luke is a bit more verbose. He gives us a critical perspective. This story is real history. It is not a myth. Luke says, “I did my homework. I checked out these stories and talked to the actual eye witnesses. I am a reporter, a true journalist.” Luke want us to know the certainty of the story. I think this is an essential fact to us since we are living in the United States in an atmosphere of extreme skepticism and doubt about truth. Truth is relative, not absolute. My truth may not be the same as your truth. Luke makes it clear. Facts are facts. They don’t vary because they may not coincide with “your truth.” We can be assured of the truth of the story of Jesus because of Luke’s diligence and scholarship. He carefully checked it out with firsthand witnesses.
John takes us way back in his introduction. Back to before creation. In the beginning was the Word. Boom! When the Father spoke and said, “Let there be…” Jesus, the Word, was there doing his thing, creating the worlds. In him was life. Hmm… When the Father breathed into Adam, and he became a living soul, somehow we again see the action of the Trinity. Jesus is the life. The breath of God is the Spirit. I can’t break this all our nice and neat, but I do see something wonderful in this introduction to the story of Jesus given by John.
What wonderful things we learn of our Lord Jesus in just the initial sentences of these four gospels. He is the fulfillment of the covenants with Abraham and David; he is God, his story is factual, real historical fact, he was from before the beginning, the creator, the author of life. And so? And so we can live our lives in faith, in confidence, in stability. We can worship him for who he really is, our separate-from-us Creator and sustainer of all things as well as our Redeemer, our Justifier. It would be OK now to say “Amen,” or maybe even shout a little. This is good news, my friends. We are commanded to delight ourselves in the Lord. When we see him clearly, it is easy to do. Be delighted in our wonderful Savior.