Mark and John missed Christmas

Mark and John don’t talk about the birth of Christ. Our most important holiday, Christmas, and it doesn’t show up in two of the four collections of stories about the life of Jesus. Easter, a much less important commercial holiday, shows up in all four, as does Good Friday, a day with no potential for celebration.

Christmas must have a better press agent now.

Back then, Mark must not have gotten the press release. Jesus, according to Mark, shows up just after John the Baptist starts preaching. No shepherds, no manger, just a guy eating locusts and honey and saying, “The next guy will be amazing.” And there’s Jesus.

John starts his story at creation, sounding a lot like Genesis (“In the beginning”). Jesus, according to John, always was. And yet, Jesus was tangible.

I’m comforted by the Christmas oversight by John and Mark. Not that the birth of Jesus is irrelevant. Far from it. John talks at length about the incarnation, God putting on flesh (meat) and walking around. But neither Mark nor John allow us to get sentimental about babies and drummer boys and perfect angel choirs. They plunge us into conversation and confrontation, healings and accusations of heresy. Mark gives us lots of miracles. John spends nearly half of his writing on the last week of Jesus’ life.

I should be clear. I’m not opposed to presents. Or babies. Or drummer boys. I love reading from Matthew about Joseph’s thoughts and reading from Luke about all the people anticipating Messiah who thrilled during the first few days after the birth.

But Jesus did more than be born. Feeding 15,000 people got more coverage in the Gospels than his birth. Dying got more coverage. So did rising again. So did teaching about loving each other.

I need to remember the whole story.


From 2013.