Math and the Gospel

I’ve never been much of a fan of math…but there’s always been a tiny nerd hiding inside of me, and occasionally she pokes out her disheveled head to geek out over interesting facts and little known statistics.

So, I really shouldn’t have been surprised last week when Nerdy Nicole popped up out of nowhere while I was driving, frazzled hair pointing every which way, while her eyes grew wide behind her smudged glasses.

You see, I started listening to the book of Luke, and Nerdy Nicole started asking questions.

“Why is Luke the go-to place to read the Christmas story, yet Luke only talks about the birth of Jesus for two chapters?”

“Do the other gospel books talk much about His birth?”

“How many gospel chapters talk about His death?”

“I bet there aren’t as many chapters talking about His birth and death as we think. Do you think that’s significant?” 

So, of course, I had to do the math. And what that math revealed made Nerdy Nicole geek wayyy out.

You see, between the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, there are 89 chapters.

And, of those 89 chapters, *only 4* chapters focus on the birth and childhood of Christ. Whatsmore, *only 10* chapters take a look at His death and resurrection (and that’s being a bit generous).

In other words, only 16% of the gospel books talk about the two events that Christians seem to focus on the most.

So, what about the other 84% of the gospels?

Well, if we take a closer look at the gospels, we notice that–while they are obviously very similar in their teachings–they have some distinct differences as well.

For instance, let’s take a look at the chart below (taken from this website!)

As we can see, each author approached the story of Jesus in a slightly different manner, and this is, in part, due to their backgrounds. Matthew was a tax collector, Mark was a teenager, Luke was a doctor, and John was one of the Apostles. I could go into more detail about them, but I would prefer you read this full article instead of my paraphrasing of it!

How do you define “the gospel”?

Is it the means to salvation? The story of Jesus? A section of the Bible?

Personally, I think of the gospel in relation to the first one–a means to salvation. In my mind, you hear and choose to believe “the gospel,” which is that Jesus was fully man and fully human, He was crucified, died, and was buried, and on the third day He rose from the dead before ascending into heaven to sit at the right hand of God.

However, English Oxford Living Dictionaries defines “the gospel” as, “the teaching or revelation of Christ.”

In other words, that 84% of the first four books of the New Testament? That is the gospel.

Yes, the gospel covers Jesus’s birth, death, and resurrection. But, by definition, the gospel is His teachings.

Shouldn’t that affect how we read the Bible? Shouldn’t that affect the way we live? Shouldn’t we focus more on better understanding these teachings instead of reiterating those things that we know inside and out?

We have holidays to celebrate Jesus’s birth and death/resurrection, but sometimes the actual gospel gets lost in the mundaneness of everyday life.

Because, you see, we naturally gravitate towards those things that give us a reason to celebrate.

It’s Jesus’s birthday? “Yay! Let’s give each other presents!”

It’s Good Friday? “Thank you, Jesus. Let’s go to church together.”

It’s Easter? “He is risen! He is risen indeed, hallelujah!”

But we don’t react in quite the same ways when reading that 84%.

Jesus healed a blind man? “Mmhmm. That’s nice.”

Jesus cursed a fig tree? “That’s…interesting.”

Jesus told a lot of stories? “Eh, yeah, they say it’s an effective teaching technique, I guess.”

Oh sure, we’ve heard the parables and miracles before. We know that they’re significant–that they’re in the Bible for a reason. But do we know what that reason really is?

That’s it, folks. The 84% of the gospel books that don’t focus on the themes of major holidays exist for the sole purpose of giving reason after reason after reason to believe.

So simple?

So simple.

And, honestly, I could babble on about Jesus’s parables and miracles, giving fun (and significant) facts about why there are four gospel books that all tell basically the same story with slightly different viewpoints. I could ramble about how people have tried to disprove these four books for centuries without success (which gives even more credit to their validity).

But I won’t.

Not because I’m feeling lazy or don’t want to share my limited knowledge, but because I want you to understand it for yourself–and I’m a firm believer that the best way to understand and remember things is to research it for yourself. 

So crack open the pages of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and dig deep!

Soak up Jesus’s words.

Learn to read the pages of His heart.

Question why He did and said the things He did, and study until you understand.

It will take time. And, honestly, you’ll never fully understand (but wouldn’t it be boring–and scary–to have a God that we completely understand?)

Oh, but friends. It will be *so* worth it.


P.S. Tell me what you’ve learned/are learning by reading the gospels! Keep scrolling down to the comment section and spill it!


1 thought on “Math and the Gospel

  1. This takes me back! (To hermeneutics and New Testament survey). Beautiful summation of the gospels. THE GOSPEL. I needed this.

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