In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1
Many years ago, a friend gave me an incredible gift, one that keeps on giving. She gave me a Bible reading schedule that takes me through the whole Bible in a year. I love it because it integrates the Old and New Testaments enhancing the richness and understanding of both. I’ve used the schedule for decades, and I’ve found the organization of books so helpful for my growth. It only takes about fifteen minutes a day, and each year I gain more knowledge and understanding.*
This season I decided to add something to my Advent disciplines: I set out to read all four Gospels during the Christmas season and to compare and contrast the texts from the perspectives of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. For example, they each had different objectives and audiences; they all had different experiences; and they were of varying ages and occupations. And so, in reading these narratives within the same time sequence, the Person of Jesus and his message become more vivid and endearing.
Each Gospel can be read in less than a week taking just a few hours per day or night. Without the stops and starts of piecemeal reading (such as in a devotional time), the story comes alive, and we become part of the scene. We see Jesus frustrated, compassionate, angry, loving, patient, and full of grace and truth. There is clarity about his clash with the Pharisees and religious leaders and amazement at his empathy with the marginalized and outcast of society. And there is heartbreak having walked with him as he revealed himself and his mission and then watching everyone (that would be all of us) abandon him to envious, self-seeking Jews and Romans. We see him suffer wordlessly, die bearing our sins that cut him off from God, and then gloriously resurrected. We have been with him, and we see that everything he said was true.
There is time during this holiday season (Christmas goes up to Epiphany.) to read all the Gospels and to walk with Jesus and his followers from his obscure birth to his majestic ascension. If we just put aside our usual evening indulgence and spend time rehearsing the old stories in an expectant way, we will be inspired, refreshed, renewed, and changed. Prepare yourself for the New Year with a fresh glimpse of Jesus.
Father, refresh our vision of our Lord as we press on to know him. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.
*If you’d like a copy of the schedule, let me know.