Skip straight to the video, or do the pre-class readings.
Suggested Pre-Class Readings
Over the next few class periods we will be talking about the unique facets of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. This article, “The Distinctive Testimonies of the Four Gospels,” will be useful to you as you learn about how the different emphases in the different Gospels can help draw us closer to Christ. Skim this article (read it more carefully if your time permits) and highlight unique aspects of the audiences and themes of each Gospel.
We often treat the Savior’s birth in a harmony; this time let’s focus on what the individual Gospel authors teach. As you read the two accounts, pay special attention both to what is said and what is not said. For example, which account focuses on Joseph? Which account focuses on Mary? Which recounts wise men? Which describes shepherds? How might these differences reflect the unique goals of individual Gospel authors?
First, read Matthew’s account of the birth of Jesus Christ in Matthew 1-2. What stands out to you from this account of Christ’s birth?
Second, read Luke’s account in Luke 1-2. What stands out to you from this account of Christ’s birth?
In our last class we talked about doing a “synopsis” study. With this idea in mind, read Mark 1:1-11, Matthew 3:1-17, Luke 3:1-22, and John 1:19-34. Look for and jot down a few notes about the similarities and differences in the accounts of Christ’s baptism. Here’s a handout to make this reading easier. What do you learn from this activity?
The next event in Christ’s life after his baptism was to fast in the wilderness and be tempted. Read Matthew 4:1-11.
What are the three temptations Christ receives?
How does he respond to each of them?
What lessons do you see from Christ’s temptations that you can apply in your own life?
Questions to focus on during the video
Be able to explain the significance of Matthew grouping Christ’s genealogy into sets of fourteen.
Who are the five women in Christ’s genealogy as portrayed by Matthew? What do they have in common? Why might Matthew have included the specific Old Testament women that he did?
What lessons can we learn from Mary’s call to be the mother of Jesus?
What is “The Magnificat” and what lesson can we learn from it?
Be familiar with the character of Herod the Great and provide non-scriptural examples to backup accounts of his violent nature. How does this help sharpen the contrast between the kingdoms of Herod and Christ?
What do we learn about the voice from heaven from Luke’s portrayal of Christ’s baptism?
What stands out to you from the temptations of Jesus Christ?
Check Your Understanding Questions
Download Visuals and Printables
Optional post-class readings
The Christmas quiz video points out that Christ was probably not born in the year 1 BC. If this is a topic you are interested in learning more about, please read this fascinating article about the timing of the birth of Christ.
This class barely scratches the surface of many beautiful aspects surrounding Christ’s birth. The most comprehensive treatment of the Savior’s book is Raymond Brown’s The Birth of the Messiah (700+ pages). Check it out if you’re interested in a deep dive! A shorter, more accessible version of Brown’s insights is found in his books, A Coming Christ in Advent and An Adult Christ at Christmas.
Movies are a great way to celebrate the Savior’s birth. I highly recommend the movie, “The Nativity Story.” The Church’s movie “The Christ Child: A Nativity Story” is also great. This video was produced by the History Channel and shows both video scenes and commentary by scholars on the Nativity.
Download the PowerPoint used in the video
Insights from, conversations with, as well as writings and resources created by several people were very helpful in the development of this class. These include Dr. Matthew Grey, Dr. Frank Judd, Dr. Raymond Brown and James Martin, SJ.