Mark reaches back to the baptism of John the Baptiser. Mark reveals that John’s ministry was prophecied by Isaiah. Jesus was baptised by the prophet held dear by the Jewish people. John the Baptiser declared Jesus to be “one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (Mark 1:7, 8). and to the first Christians ears, most of whom were Jewish converts, the word of the prophet John was enough.
Mathew, written a few years later, starts with the birth of Jesus. He tells of Joseph and Mary discovering the pregnancy and meeting the angel. He tells the stories of Bethlehem, the Wisemen, the escape to Egypt, the return to Nazareth and a bit about Jesus growing up. So, Matthew reaches back, not to the baptism of John to anchor Jesus’ identity but beyond - to His birth. He even includes a linage that shows Jesus’ connection to Abraham—the father of the Jewish Nation.
Luke is the next to be written. Luke does something strategic and interesting. Knowing his audience would be familiar with the Gospels of Mark and Matthew, he leads into the story by reliving their beginnings. He even tells his listeners he is doing this in his introduction: “Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write...” (Luke 1:1-3).
John’s Gospel comes onto the scene decades later. How can John reach any further back that Adam—the first man—present on freshly created Earth, before sin? Surely there is no anchor point beyond Creation to which a human reader would feel both compelled and identified.