Sunday, December 13, 2009

Death and Resurrection - 17, Birth - 2.5

At this time of year, when we place so much emphasis upon the celebration of the birth of Christ, it might be interesting to see how much the gospel writers have to say about it. It seems logical that if we, as Christ's church, should be celebrating His birth, then the writers of the gospels would spend a great deal of time on it.

Let's look at the simple math:

In the four gospel accounts, there are a total of 89 chapters (Matthew - 28, Mark - 16, Luke - 24, and John - 21).

Matthew gives about 1 chapter to the birth narrative. Mark does not discuss it. Luke spends roughly 1.5 chapters on it. John, like Mark, does not mention Christ's birth. Therefore, out of 89 total chapters, only 2.5 are spent on the birth of Jesus Christ. I'm not suggesting that the birth of Christ is unimportant; rather, I'm pointing out that the gospel writers did not take much time to discuss it. Maybe we should think about this as we contemplate the celebrating we do.

For the sake of comparison, let's look at how much the gospel writers had to say in their passion and resurrection narratives. The starting point for each is the mention of the Passover. Matthew spends 3 chapters on it (chapters 26-28). Mark uses 3 chapters (14-16). Luke writes for 3 chapters about it (22-24). John spends a whopping 8 chapters (13-20) on the passion and resurrection of Christ. That makes for a total of 17 chapters total focusing on the death and resurrection of Jesus.

We must assume that the biblical writers took the most time on the content that they believed to be the most important. The above score (17 to 2.5) should show us that while the birth of Christ is significant, His death and resurrection are far more significant. Just the sheer number of chapters gives us a strong clue about what we should be celebrating (at any time of year).

The early church understood this. When they gathered, they celebrated the death and resurrection of Christ. They did this at least in part through the Lord's Supper. We have no indication that early Christians spent time focusing on Christ's birth.

Since the gospel writers emphasized the death and resurrection of Jesus more than anything else, shouldn't we do the same no matter what time of year it is?

4 comments:

Steve said...

You are so right. Jesus came but for one purpose, to shed His blood for the sins of the whole world on the cross. His birth was so we'd know He came as God, wraped in flesh to live among us, but our main focus should be, His death, and His resurrection, because without it, we'd have no hope, and His birth would have no meaning to us without the sheding of blood for the remission of sins. May God bless you

Eric said...

Steve,

Thanks for your comment. It's amazing that so many people who believe the bible is true also celebrate Christmas as if it is more important than Christ's passion and resurrection.

Rini said...

Yeah, I knew ever since I learned the history behind Christmas and Easter that this perspective was skewed. Because of this, I celebrated less on his birth and more on his death and resurrection. More along the lines of: "He was born so that he could die for us. How amazing is that? To become a flesh and then die for our sins."

Praise God!

Eric said...

Rini,

His death and resurrection truly are the focal points of salvation. The birth is emphasized only in man-made celebrations.