One of the things I hope to do… is encourage people to reconsider some things about the four gospel accounts and the book of Acts. As readers of the story of Jesus, our generation and culture has become very familiar with what happened while Jesus was on earth. For instance, most people know, in general, what miracles He performed. We are somewhat familiar with the people He healed. We can repeat the story of His birth, His death, and His resurrection. These “events” are similar to the interior of a house. We are comfortable with them. We like the way they feel. We’ve lived there, theologically, for a while. They have become familiar.
One reader might really like the way John’s gospel reads. Another might like insight that the words of Christ offer. Someone else might really like the story of Pentecost… or Paul’s theology. These are the interior features of the gospel. As much as we love certain aspects of the scriptures, we often fail to leave them in their first-century Jewish context.Our generation likes the gospel so much and our natural response is to apply the messages we read in the gospel to our own generation. We want everything to apply to us. But we must be willing to first read the scriptures in their original context to understand what they really mean.
We know that the story Christ (found in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) is unique. The four gospel writers tell of the time God came to Earth and put on skin. That only happened one time in history. The people who experienced the incarnation of Christ were a unique group as well. Every generation before that generation could only look forward to the coming of the Christ. Every generation after that one could only look back on the incarnation. But the generation who saw Jesus on Earth was truly unique.
Have you ever considered… there were people in that first century generation who, in faith, looked forward to the Promised Christ. Some of those same people met Christ, saw his life, death, burial, and resurrection. This same group then had the unique opportunity to look back and remember His earthly visit. If there was ever a “greatest generation” in history… that must have been the one.
Like every other generation in history, that generation included people who believed in God… and those who didn’t believe. But that generation was unique to every other generation in history past, present, and future. The “true believers” in that generation, through faith, trusted in the promise of a Messiah… and then got to meet that Messiah (Matthew 13:16-17).
That generation of believers was unique to all others. They shared the faith of Abraham in the promise of one “through whom the world would be blessed”, but they were also introduced to that “Promised One”. Considering this context is most important as we look again at the four gospels and the book of Acts. The story of Jesus is unique… and it happened within a very unique context. There are some things from that story that we should apply to our lives today, but as we will discover, there are other things that shouldn’t apply to our setting.