Read Matthew 1-2, Mark 1-3, Luke 1-2, and John 1. Then discuss the ways in which these chapters reflect the distinctive themes/emphases of the gospels in which they appear. (In other words, find some stories in each set of chapters that illustrate some key themes of that gospel.)
Discuss the purpose and method of Roman execution by crucifixion.
Three key themes of the four gospels in the New Testament are that of the announcement of the coming of Jesus Christ and His birth, the miraculous power of Jesus, and His disciples.
- Coming and birth of Jesus
Matthew 1:20-25 While Joseph is told to take Mary away privately because she is with child before they are married, an angel appears to him and explains that Mary has conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and will bring forth a son who will be referred to as Emmanuel (meaning God with us). His name will be Jesus.
Matthew 2: 1-12 Jesus is born in Bethlehem and Herod learns that He who is called "The King of the Jews" has been born. He tries to learn from the wise men where Jesus is, but they do not return after visiting the Christ child.
Mark 1:1-9 John the Baptist heralds the coming of Jesus as the Savior. However, Jesus is a grown man in this gospel.
Luke: 1: 27-38 An angel appears before Mary and announces to her that she will give birth to He that will "be called the Son of God."
Luke 1:68-76 After John is born of Elizabeth, his father Zacharias, who has been made dumb, has his tongue loosened after John is born, and he pronounces that his son John will be called "Prophet of the Highest" because he will "go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways."
John 1: 6-14 In a more metaphoric manner, St. John writes of the birth of Christ, preceded by the prophet John the Baptist, who "was not that Light, was was sent to bear witness of that Light" (8).
"And the Word [Jesus] was made flesh and dwelt among us...full of grace and truth" (14).
- Miraculous powers and teachings of Jesus Christ
Mark 3:1-12 Jesus heals a withered hand, a leper, those with plagues and unclean spirits.
John 2:1-11 These verses relate the story of the marriage in Galilee in which the guests have no more wine. Mary tells her Son that they have no more wine, then instructs the servants to do whatever "He saith unto you." Jesus tells the servants to fill the water pots with water, but when they pour from these pots, the water has been changed to wine.
Mark 2:15-16 Jesus talks with the Pharisees and scribes
Mark 3:22-29 Jesus talks with the scribes and cautions them against blaspheming.
Luke 2:49 Jesus is in the temple talking with the doctors, "about my Father's business."
John 2:19 Jesus is in the temple "Take these things hence; make not my Father's house a house of merchandise." Jesus drives the merchants out of the temple. Then He speaks of the temple of His body that will be destroyed, but rise in three days.
- The Disciples
Mark 3: 14-19 "And He ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach"(14) Jesus chooses several disciples.
John 2:17 After Jesus drives out those selling doves in the temple, "...his disciples remembered that it was written the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. (They are again mentioned in verse 22)