Today in my Bible reading I decided to read only Red Letters. I started in Matthew and made it through Mark and Luke, skipping over the black print in the Gospels and reading only the Red Letters. I was surprised at how quickly I covered entire books and what a blessing it was to “hear” the voice of Jesus in a constant stream of dialogue.
So I became curious about who had invented the first “Red Letters” edition of the New Testament. His name was Lewis Klopsch. I haven’t figured how to pronounce his last name yet, but he was a German-born Christian journalist who was very successful as the owner and editor of a prominent evangelical magazine known as the Christian Herald. The New York Times gave him quite an obituary when he died following surgery in 1910.
One day Dr. Klopsch was reading Luke 22:20, and he saw the words, “This cup is the New Covenant in My blood….” Instantly he thought of printing the words of Christ in red in the Bible. He organized a series of biblical scholars to work on the project, and the first Red Letter Bible was published in 1901.
As I’ve read just the words of Christ in the Gospel, I’ve wondered if I might prepare and preach a series of sermons under the general heading: “Red Letters for Rough Days” or “Mottos from the Master” or “How the Words of Christ Can Lighten Your Load and Brighten Your Day.” I’ll mull over it for a possible 2010 series.
Anyway, if you have a chance, try this experiment. Read through one of the Gospels (Try Mark is you don’t have a lot of time; John if you have all evening), reading only the words marked in the color of the blood of the New Covenant. What better way to spend some time celebrating Christmas!