No star. No angels. No shepherds. No wise men. No mention of Bethlehem or Mary and Joseph. No compelling story of the babe in a manger. No genealogy of Jesus to introduce His birth. No elaborate “Christmas Story” describing the events preceding and surrounding the birth of Jesus.

John the Apostle does none of these things when he begins to tell the story of Jesus of Nazareth.

Instead, he pens a unique introduction to the words and works of Jesus that reaches back to eternity past, echoing the introductory phrase in Genesis—“In the beginning.” John establishes the nature and character of Jesus as he begins to unfold such familiar themes as life and light to describe the One who became flesh and lived among us.

Why are there four different gospels? How different are they? Do they contradict one another? Why did God inspire four accounts of Jesus’ story?

Although all four gospels record the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus, each is distinct, written from the author’s own perspective. Each author is writing to a specific audience for a specific purpose. From the pages of each gospel emerge a unique, but complementary, portrait of Jesus Christ.

Matthew presents Jesus as the Messiah to his Jewish audience. Mark presents a call to discipleship where Jesus is Lord desiring a fruitful, right relationship and proper worship from His people. Luke emphasizes Jesus as teacher and seeks to make the Gentiles certain of the things that Jesus has taught. But John’s purpose in writing is clearly defined by John himself—Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and the source of eternal life.

And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. (John 20:30-31)….

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