Why did the evangelists write the Gospels?  We take the Gospels for granted, but the early Christians had no bible of their own.  They read (or most likely listened to) the same Old Testament as their mothers and fathers did, all while believing that Jesus is the Messiah.  In fact, throughout most of Church history, few Christians were able to read the bible due to illiteracy and the lack of bibles.  Early Christians preserved the memory of Jesus through oral stories.  The parables are memorable stories and are easily memorized in oral cultures.  As time went on, Christians realized that these stories had to be preserved.  There was also concern about some of the stories circulating about Jesus.  A scholarly consensus says that there were widespread resurrection stories circulating stories among early Christians.  The first of the evangelists, Mark, wrote his Gospel to emphasize discipleship.   

Mark’s Gospel contains little about the resurrected Christ because everyone knew those stories.  Mark wanted his readers to recognize that unless one becomes a disciple, those resurrection accounts mean nothing.  Each of the Gospels portrays Jesus differently based upon their culture and situations.  This should not surprise us Catholics since Mary has appeared differently to people based upon their contexts; for instance, Our Lady of Lourdes looks nothing like a Jewish woman from the first century, yet we recognize the continuity between the historical Mary and the apparition.  The Jesus of Mark’s Gospel emphasizes discipleship and this reflects the difficulties of Mark’s community.  Each of the Gospels has a slightly different understanding of Jesus.  So which Gospel is the real Jesus?  Simply, they all are.  Each of us can look at an object or person differently based upon our contexts.  My looking at a tennis ball from the bleachers is different from the tennis player’s perspective and this is different from someone looking at the tennis ball under a microscope.  As the Son of God, Jesus cannot be constrained by one view.  Jesus is both servant AND Lord; both someone who suffers death and someone freely giving his life up for others; someone who welcomes sinners and someone who demands repentance and discipleship.  No one view is enough to contain the great mystery God has established in Jesus the Christ.

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