Christmas from a different perspective posted by jwatson on Dec 16, 2011
A Different Slant on Christmas
Have you ever wondered about the different accounts of Jesus’ birth in Matthew versus Luke? One focuses on Joseph, the other on Mary. One talks about the wise men, the other about shepherds. In one, the family fled to Egypt, in the other they returned home to Nazareth. Contradictions? Mark and John give no account of Jesus’ birth, so, no help there. So, how do we resolve apparent conflicts? Perhaps the oral learners can help us with this.
Oral learners see no conflict. They recognize Matthew and Luke as different witnesses speaking to different listeners. Of course they will not tell what happened in the same way! They will each tell it their way and they will focus on what is significant for their particular listeners. Rather than worrying about wording or whether or not angels appear to people, the oral learner wants to know what the angel said. It doesn’t matter that one account says the family went to Nazareth, the other to Egypt. They did both. These are two reporters. One mentions some things, the other mentions other things. It all happened.
The oral learner appreciates the humanity of the people in the story and stands in wonder at the supernatural events that accompanied the birth of this child and recognizes that he was divine. Together the accounts help the oral learner to worship.
Stories about Jesus were circulated orally first and only later written down. We have no idea how many people heard Mary’s account of Jesus’ birth. Perhaps an aged shepherd sat and told Luke about the unforgettable angelic pronouncement. We know of these true events because someone eventually wrote them down, but first, they were told orally. And John tells us: (John 21:25) “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” So, there is more. But God has given us enough.
As we listen to the telling of the different accounts of Jesus’ birth, live in the story. Enjoy the good news. Acknowledge him whose birth stands out among that of all humanity as “The Promised One,” God-made-man and worship.