Explaining the need of 4 Gospels

The Last Supper of Jesus Christ

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I recently was working with a younger guy about studying the Bible, and how would be the best way for him to do it. After my study today, I now realize why we have four different, yet similar and significant books that tell the story of Jesus Christ birth, life, death, resurrection, ascension, and predict his return. From my study today I can tell you that I believe there are three primary reasons we have four different books.

1.) Having four gospels gives us a more complete view of Jesus.

Even though God inspired all of the authors of the Bible, he chose different types of people from different backgrounds with different styles and personalities to write it. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John each had a very distinct agenda when they sat down to write, very different purposes.

-Matthew: In this gospel it is fairly easy to see that the target audience was Jewish people, or Hebrews. He intentionally added Jesus full family tree to prove that Jesus was the Messiah that they were waiting to appear and fulfill prophecies. “After Jesus left the girl’s home, two blind men followed along behind him, shouting, “Son of David, have mercy on us!”  (Matt. 9:27) By including this verse, the point was to remind the readers that Jesus descended from David, like the prophecy said he would.

-Mark: Mark is written first-hand, an eye-witness of Jesus life kind of view for the readers. Mark’s target audience was the gentiles (you and me). Mark leaves out the majority of the things that would matter for a Jewish reader on purpose. He leaves out Jesus’ family tree, his issues with the Jewish leaders, and references to the Old Testament times as well. These are things that Gentiles would not have understood anyway back then. Another of Mark’s primary objectives was to display Jesus in the role of “servant” as opposed to the one being served, this was an intentional example Mark set for us to live by.

-Luke: Luke the man, was a doctor, an evangelist, and the apostle Paul’s best friend. As a doctor, you will notice the great detail Luke gives about the events of Jesus life. Luke also wrote Acts. Luke the ONLY  writer in the whole Bible who isn’t Jewish. He was a Gentile like us. He was also a great historian, and even though not a Jew, still included a family tree of Jesus, which came from a slightly different bloodline that the one mentioned in Matthew. Though he wrote his gospel for a Gentile audience, he still included the details that Jews would understand. His main intention was to show that a Christian’s faith is based on real history and events.

-John: While not considered a Synoptic Gospel, like the first three, John’s gospel is a gospel none the less. His style is much different from the others, John’s main goal, is to show the divine side of Jesus. John does not tell us the story of Jesus birth or early ministry, but begins immediately with giving us a look at Jesus the man’s character, and godly nature. John even gives us his very own reason and purpose of writing this gospel: “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:30-31)

You see, these four were necessary for us to get the full picture of who Jesus was, is, and is to come.

2.) Having four gospels enables us to verify the accounts of Jesus life as facts.

The Old Testament law forbids anything to be taken as fact unless there are more than one eye-witnesses. In a court of law in today’s world, four different witnesses called to the stand would each give the same story, but from different perspectives, and each would leave details out and put details in that others would or would not. If they were identical, it would indicate to a judge that there was collusion. While these four gospels are part of one Bible, and one group called the “Gospels”, they are also free-standing independent accounts written by different people with different outlooks on the same thing that ultimately reach the same goal. In a court of law, from a legal standpoint, they indicate factual reliability.

3.) Having four gospels rewards Christian’s who are true seekers.

While we can learn a ton from reading each individual gospel, reading them as a collection and comparing them against one another is far more spiritually fulfilling. The differences in the books force us to study harder, read closer, in order to find the meaning and the truth about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. For example: in Matthew 14 Jesus makes his disciples go on ahead of him in the boat, and essentially tells them he will catch up to them later. This verse gives us no reason for Jesus’ actions. However, if you read and combine that with Mark 6, you will learn that Jesus had sent them earlier two-by-two to cast out demons and when they returned they were riding high on the horse, they even behaved as if they were going to teach Jesus! The nerve! So we can learn, that Jesus had two reasons for sending them off ahead of him in the boat. As they are struggling against the storm, without Jesus, fighting on their own against the wind and waves they first learn that they can do nothing on their own, that can do nothing without Jesus. The second thing they learned was that nothing is impossible to those who call upon Jesus for help.

I hope reading this today has given you a better understanding of why we need and have four gospels,

God bless you,

Chris

*Today’s message was inspired mostly by the great folks at GotQuestions.com*

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