I have been thinking for some time on the issue of the gospel accounts and why it took so long after Christ’s ministry to write the details, even though, in the span of time, it was not too long after it as many feel considering it was approximately up to three decades before many were written. Looking at the gospel accounts, it seems important to take into consideration that those who followed Christ, were not focused on others who would come to Him, potentially, in the future, but rather their personal relationship with Him and what would happen to them when the end came (Matthew 18:1; 20:21). It is not particularly difficult to imagine that fishermen, by trade, were not focused around recording the events as they occur as some journalist, but rather following the one who commanded by saying, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men” and also to the tax collector, “Follow me” (Matthew 4:19; 8:22). During the period of time in His ministry, the disciples followed closely at His heels, taking in every word, following every example, and performing everything which was commanded of them, so, in an environment of constant learning and activity, the sheer work that was required in writing verbatim the teachings and life of the one, Jesus Christ, was not a tenable or practical option.
Perhaps, then, we may be asked: why didn’t anyone who lived parallel to Christ Jesus write of Him in His miracles? Well, specifically, in that time, there were an incredible amount of claims to being the Messiah of the world so to specifically become skeptical over the lack of neutral or skeptic references to Jesus is not really that surprising. As far as Jewish authorities, scripturally, we see that they were content with trying to trap Jesus in His words (Mt 22:15-46; Lk 20:20-47) and ensure His removal from the living world (Mt 26:3-5; 27:20; Lk 23:13-16), so it is no wonder that their authorities, contemporary with Christ, would not write much, if anything, regarding the one who shook their foundations, which were rituals and processes instead of broken and contrite hearts, the pure sacrifices of which God favors (Ps. 51:16-17). Those who should have followed Christ and didn’t, would not write much, if anything, regarding Christ, for the greatest harm to their position would be to write a history of the one who opposed the ways and practices, which had become unknowingly mundane and heartless and those who did not originally follow after God, but their individual and cultural deities instead, would not care for the claims to the Messiah or “Savior of the world,” were many, prompting a response of, “Oh great, here is another one claiming to be the savior of mankind!” After the Messiah claims, ad nauseam, it becomes entirely uninteresting to write about each individual “messiah” outside of little quips regarding the followers and who they follow.
In the above, we have observed some interesting points as far as why the disciples did not write anything while He was still alive and why the Jewish and secular contemporaries would not have mentioned much of Jesus in their writings, but what of the disciples following immediately after the death and resurrection of Jesus? It can be brought back to a simple point that the disciples after His death and resurrection did what was commanded, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19-20). They were not commanded, “Verily, I say to you, do not go out until you have written these things down,” but were commanded to act and act fast, because judgment was fast approaching in the massive persecution of the budding church and the final destruction of the temple! There were things to do, a church to build, and people to bring to Christ before the coming storm. Yes, Christ was the foundation for church, but they were responsible and given authority for the frame and the development of the church itself; that is not to say, however, that there was an extraordinary amount of time between Christ’s ascension and the composition of the gospel accounts, for as the disciples began acquiring disciples, the disciples of the disciples started collecting the teachings of the very men who first answered the call to “follow me.” Specifically, John Mark, the writer of the second of the four gospels composed his gospel account from what Peter, the apostle of the Lord, spoke and Dr. Luke, the first-rate historian who followed Paul through his missionary journeys, wrote his account from various sources as a professional journalist or historian would do, understanding that many had already taken the task of writing the events that occurred (Lk 1:1-4, possibly referring to John Mark and his relationship with Peter).
The disciples, during the ministry of Jesus, were too preoccupied in learning and following the commands of their Master, afterward, they were too busy winning people over for Christ and building the framework for the church itself before the judgment that was quickly approaching Israel came, as well as working through the merciless persecution that was enacted by the Roman empire and the Jewish authorities. The Jewish and secular contemporaries had various reasons, as well, for not composing histories about the man named the Savior and Light of the world, which span from disinterest and the corrupt. Upon consideration, however, the reason for the lack of immediate contemporary writings becomes valid and acceptable, provided, of course, that the imposing presuppositions can be overlooked to objective consideration. As a careful look is made into this particular issue, the point is reinforced: the historicity of the four-fold gospel cannot be simply cast out because they were written a small amount of time after Christ’s resurrection. Sadly, though, the problem of the presupposition prevents one from accepting that which their heart is vehemently opposed to and increases their hardness of heart to destruction.