I love a good science fiction sequel. One of my favorite things about sequels is when authors write a section of the book, a new book, or even a parallel sequel from a different character’s perspective. I find these fascinating and enriching. You learn so much more about the story’s main character, his personality, how he is perceived, and the impact his actions have on others when you read someone else’s perspective. Even as the same events get narrated from a different character’s viewpoint, you get glimpses into the other dynamics taking place and get a fuller understanding of what was happening. So it is with the Gospels.
A few years ago, I realized that not every Gospel started the same way. I was surprised that the Gospels of Mark and John don’t even include the birth of Jesus. And I wasn’t as familiar with the Gospels as I thought. I had missed the beauty, intentionality, and purpose in which each Gospel was written.
So, why are there four Gospels? Why are they not the same? Why do some Gospels include similar narratives while not covering others? Because our hearts are stubborn, God, in his great mercy, inspired different men to write the Gospels to address different aspects of Jesus’ character. God inspired authors to answer questions that different groups of people (i.e., Jews and Gentiles) would have regarding Jesus. Each Gospel shows that Jesus is the promised Messiah, the Son of God, and the Savior.
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW
Matthew demonstrates that Jesus is the Promised One the Israelites had been waiting for. Through his account, Matthew conveys that Jesus is indeed the fulfillment of the promises and prophecies foretold (Isa. 7; Isa. 60; Mic. 5). He continually refers back to the Old Testament and gives evidence for Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s covenant promises. Throughout the book, Matthew highlights Jesus as the new Moses, bringing deliverance to God’s people and the announcement that the kingdom of God is here (Matt. 4:17). Finally, Matthew compels us to see that Jesus is Immanuel, God with us (Matt. 1:21–23; Isa. 7:14).
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MARK
Mark highlights Jesus as the Son of God and as the Suffering Servant who came to die for the sins of the world (Mark 10:45; Isa. 53). Mark begins his narrative with, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1). The first half of the Gospel shows the authority Jesus had as the Son of God and proclaiming the kingdom of God. Mark gives us a glimpse into the ministry of Jesus and his role on earth, which leads to the contrasting description of Jesus in the second half of the Gospel of Mark, the Suffering Servant. The Gospel of Mark shows that Jesus took the form of a servant (Phil. 2:6–8).
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE
Luke was a scholar. In order to combat questions about the veracity of the life of Jesus, he collected eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ life. The readers of Luke’s text will know the “certainty concerning the things you have been taught” (Luke 1:4). He gives the most detailed accounts of Jesus’ birth. Through the recounting of Jesus’ healing miracles, Luke points out how Jesus came to save and seek the lost, the poor, and the outcast (Luke 19:10).
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN
Through the Gospel according to John, we can see and believe that Jesus is fully God and fully man. Although Jesus was in his human body, he never stopped being God. John starts his account by saying, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). He says that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). The Gospel of John highlights when Jesus calls himself “I AM.” Do you know who was known as the “I AM”? God Almighty. Our God took on human flesh and gave his life for you and me on the cross so that you and I can believe in the name of Jesus and be saved (John 3:16)!
READ THE GOSPELS WITH FRESH EYES
As you read the Gospels with fresh eyes, remember the unique perspective and themes of each account. Take the time to look up direct quotations of the Old Testament. Consider the Jesus you see presented in the Gospels and ask yourself, “Do I believe?” Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah, the promised King, and the Suffering Servant. Will you also make him Lord of your life?