TITLE: FOUR STORIES: Part 1


INTRODUCTION

At 2:00 PM on December 13, 2008, Diane was killed in a car accident. She was returning from a trip to the mall and was listening to a Christmas CD when she was broadsided at an intersection by a young driver who ran a red light. Diane was killed instantly. She left behind a loving husband of 23 years, a 21 year old son, and many beloved family members and friends.

Diane had been a very successful motivational speaker. Her husband, Bruce, was a publisher. Travis, their only child, was a junior in college. Despite the money they made and the modest amount of public spotlight due to their careers, privately they lived a considerably simple life centered around their family and friends.

On June 13, 2009, Bruce asked three people to lunch at his and Diane’s home. He invited their son Travis, Diane’s older sister, Annie, and Diane’s oldest and dearest friend, Ruth. This was the first time the four of them had all been together at one time since the funeral. Although everyone was glad to see each other, there was a clear sense of shared sadness.

After lunch, Bruce invited everyone to sit in the family room. “I know it’s tough.” He started. “But would Diane want us to be sad on such a beautiful day and in the presence of such great company?” Everyone smiled. Ruth wiped a tear from her check. Bruce continued, “There is a very specific reason I asked you here today. Six months ago today, we lost someone very dear to us. Di… Di… Diane.” Although he had put up a good front to this point, Bruce was having a hard time keeping his composure.

Travis quickly went to his dad and embraced him. “What is it Dad? Why did you want us to meet here today?”

Bruce clung tightly to his son and uncontrollably let out six months of hidden grief. Without a word or any hesitation, Annie and Ruth joined Bruce and Travis in the middle of the room for a group hug that lasted for quite some time. They all cried together.

Eventually Bruce and everyone else regained their composure. “So what is it Bruce? What do you need?” Ruth asked.

“I’ve had an idea.” Bruce said. “I want each of us to write a story about Diane’s life. I want to put the stories together in a book dedicated to her memory. I want the title of the book to be, “Four Stories, The Life of Diane Brown.” But really, I was hoping this wouldn’t be all about what I want.”

It didn’t take long from there. Travis was a little reluctant at first (he was still dealing with his own hidden grief). But within two hours they had all agreed that by the end of September they would have their first drafts to Bruce. Bruce would read them all and then either follow-up with everyone individually or call a group meeting to discuss the stories. Everyone left in high spirits. They were all very excited about the book and having the opportunity to honor Diane in such a personal way. Once the house was empty again, Bruce walked to the guest bedroom and sat on the bed. This time he cried for three hours.

By the third week in August everyone had their first draft completed. Bruce tore through each of the other three stories looking for a renewed sense of connection to his lost wife. He laughed, he cried, he reminisced. The second time through he savored each word. He was learning more about his wife than he had ever known before. He hadn’t really realized what a tremendous blessing it would be to have the opportunity to see his wife’s life from the perspective of three other people that loved her dearly. One, a grieving son. One, a confused older sister. One, a now very lonely best friend.

About the fifth time through the stories (now each time he read his own story along with the others), he began to read them as a publisher. It was still deeply personal, but it was also turning into something different. As much as he loved each story, he had started to notice some discrepancies. Although he didn’t want to question the accuracy of the other three authors, he was meticulously comparing the details where each story overlapped and started developing a detailed list of any inconsistencies.

Bruce scheduled the second meeting of the group for September 19 at 10:00 AM. This time the meeting would be held in a large conference room at Bruce’s office. He had explained to everyone that this would be a working meeting to go over the drafts and start finalizing them for the book. Bruce told them he would have lunch brought in so they could spend the entire day working. He also forwarded each of them a binder containing copies of all four stories. He did not mention the discrepancies.

The day of the meeting, everyone showed up a little early. They were all very excited (especially after reading each other’s stories). The first hour was spent genuinely praising each other for their work. And then Bruce delicately shifted the meeting’s focus to start dealing with the inconsistencies he had so meticulously documented.

“In the binder I sent each of you, I marked up only your story with suggestions and/or corrections on things such as grammar, spelling, phrasing, etc. I will follow-up with each of you separately on those items. But before we go any further, we need to deal with … with what I will call subtle differences in accounts where the stories overlap.” Bruce then passed out copies of a table he had created detailing the discrepancies he had found.

The mood in the room changed from one of happiness and excitement to a mix of sincere desire to address the issue at hand, and confusion and anxiety about how there could be discrepancies in the stories. Was Bruce saying that they had made mistakes? Was he questioning their honesty? Or worse yet, was he discounting their individual perspectives relating to the events in Diane’s life?


SCRIPTURE

Focus Verse: 2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.

Additional Verses: Matthew 26:20-30, Mark 14:17-26, Luke 22:14-39, John 13:1-30


DISCUSSION

Every word in the Bible is the Word of God. Therefore, without question, there are no mistakes. No discrepancies. No contradictions. Only opportunities to grow closer to God and stronger in our faith as we diligently seek him by reading his word (Hebrews 11:6).

Before you go any further with this devotional, pray that God will give you wisdom to understand the absolute truth of His Word (James 1:5-6). This devotional is intended to give insight into God’s Word, not to question the validity or accuracy of the Bible.

Okay. Your assignment for this devotional is to study the four accounts of the Last Supper (see ‘Additional Verses’ above). Notice I didn’t say to read the four accounts. I said to study them. Read them carefully. Compare them to each other. Make some notes about what you find.

Before you begin your in-depth study of these four separate accounts of the same event in the life of Christ, there are a few things you should understand about the writers of the four Gospels. But first, a more general point should be made. I believe that God, through the Holy Spirit, inspired the writers of every word in the Bible (John 14:26, 1 Corinthians 2:13). However, these writers were not merely pens in the hand of God. Each of them brought their personality, perspective and life experiences to what they wrote.

With regards to the four Gospels, only Mathew (Levi) and John were actually at the Last Supper. Mark and Luke probably heard most of what they knew about Christ from Paul (but never forget they were inspired by God as they wrote their Gospel accounts). And although each of them believed that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, they each focused on a particular aspect of Christ’s role. God also had a particular audience in mind for each of the Gospel accounts.

Mathew viewed Christ as the Promised King and wrote primarily to the Jews. Mark focused on Christ as the Servant of God as he wrote this Gospel in Rome. His primary audience was the Romans. Luke was a Greek doctor (the only Gentile writer in the New Testament) and saw Jesus as The Son of Man. Luke wrote as a historian, in great detail, with a Greek audience in mind. And finally, John, the Disciple whom Christ Loved, wrote to Christians throughout the known world about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

In the next devotional (Four Stories: Part 2), we will pick up where we left off with Bruce, Travis, Annie and Ruth. They are headed on a journey filled with discovery, love, and lessons in humility. We will also review what you found in your detailed review of the four accounts of the Last Supper. We will conclude this devotional with some lessons about how God speaks through His Word to a very diverse world (God is so very patient with us and not willing that any should perish, 2 Peter 3:9). So study hard. But pray harder.


PRAYER

Father, You are faithful and patient as You teach Your children. There is such comfort for my soul in knowing that as I read the Bible, I am reading the thoughts of Your heart. I trust and believe that You teach us not only by the individual accounts, and laws and lessons presented in Your Word; but also, and more deeply, by the entire Word of God taken as a whole. Thank You for the Holy Spirit, my comforter and teacher, who reveals the truth of Your Word to me. I love You and Praise You Lord. I pray that love, gentleness and humility in my life show my submission to You and Your will. In the name of Jesus Christ I pray, Amen.