I have been out of town the last few days at a Leadership Conference. We had a marvelous time of spiritual renewal and fellowship with other members of Tucson Baptist Temple who are serving in leadership positions. God is so good to still work in the hearts and lives of those within our congregation. I cannot wait to see all that He is going to do in the coming weeks and months in our church.
Well, back to the topic of discussion from the past few days. Although each of the Gospel writers had a different emphasis, they did have a common theme. Even if you read only one of the four Gospels, you would have enough information as to how to receive forgiveness of your sins and be saved. Think about Matthew 20:28, “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
Mark quoted Jesus, “I came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance… He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 2:17; 16:16). The key verse of Luke is found in 19:10, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
Of course in John you will come across all kinds of tremendous salvation verses with the greatest verse found in 3:16. So there is no doubt about it: each of the Gospel writers stressed the fact of forgiveness of sins that is available through Christ.
Get into the Word of God today… don’t try; DO today!
You might think that since the four men we have recently described (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) were writing about the same thing that their records would be identical. But that is not the case. Each author wrote from a different viewpoint and for a different purpose. It is just as if four people were to photograph one person from different perspectives.
To illustrate my point… we took a wonderful team from our church to help Marvin and Jewel Wright in Uganda. There were at least 12 people who had cameras. I would collect all of the pictures every couple of days so that I could put all of them together for the team. It is always fascinating to see what people choose to focus on when they take their pictures. We were all on the exact same trip; however, each person who took pictures chose to focus on different perspectives. Some had all “face shots” while others captured animals and bugs. Others loved taking pictures of the children while others focused on the work that was being done. It is much the same way when we read the Gospels.
Matthew wrote primarily to Jews to show them that Jesus was the Messiah and the rightful heir to David’s throne. Mark wrote to show Jesus as God’s obedient Son. Luke wrote to Gentiles to show them Jesus was human as well as divine. And John’s Gospel, the last of the four written, pictures Jesus as God’s only begotten Son, sent into the world to die for sinners.
Maybe this perspective will give you a fresh insight as you sit down to read these books.
Don’t try today; DO today!
Today we begin with “Dr.” Luke. The writer of the third Gospel also set down the history of the early church as recorded in the book of Acts. Unlike the other Gospel writers, Luke was a physician and a Gentile. That means, of course, that he was not one of the twelve disciples, for they were all Jews.
Again, the question probably comes to your mind, where did Luke get his information in order to write his book? Well, like Mark, Luke was also a companion of the Apostle Paul. In writing Acts, he often used the pronoun “we” to describe what he and Paul did together. No doubt Luke talked with men who were eyewitnesses to the life of the Lord.
The fourth writer of the Gospels is considered the “beloved” disciple. The writer of this last Gospel record was one of the twelve disciples and perhaps the youngest. Along with Peter and James, he was the closest of the Lord’s companions. Jesus apparently had a special affection for John who, although at first he was what we would call a “hot head,” because of his quick temper, turned out to exemplify the patient love he so often wrote about, especially in his letters: I, II, and III John.
Here, then, are the four men whom God chose to be the biographers of His Son. Were it not for their written records, we would have no reliable, first-hand accounts of the life of Christ.
Tomorrow we will examine how God used four vastly different men to help us see Christ!
Don’t try today; DO today!
Today let’s look at Matthew. The writer of the first Gospel record was one of the twelve disciples. He held perhaps the least popular job in all Israel. Matthew was a tax collector for the occupying Roman government. It was the custom for internal revenue men of that day to take from taxpayers more than they legitimately owed – and to pocket the difference. There is no reason to suppose that Matthew did not do this too.
But that changed dramatically and instantly the day Jesus walked by and said to him, “Follow me.” Matthew “left all, rose up, and followed him” (Luke 5:28). That was a good illustration of Jesus’ later words, “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:34).
Then there is Mark. Many people mistakenly believe that Mark was also one of the twelve disciples. But he was not. He may well have been 15 or 20 years younger than Jesus, which would have made him a teenager during the years of Jesus’ ministry.
This probably makes you wonder how Mark came into possession of the information he wrote about in his Gospel. This can be answered in two ways: First, Mark’s mother, one of the several Marys of the Bible, opened her home in Jerusalem for prayer meetings of early Christians (Acts 12:12). And second, he traveled on missionary journeys with his cousin, Barnabas, and Paul. In hearing these men preach about Jesus, Mark learned much about what the Lord did and said.
So maybe today you have learned something new that you did not know. The Bible is a fascinating book and one that we should continue to mine truth. It comes alive more and more as we study it.
Don’t try today; DO today!
If you could have the choice of living at any selected point in history, when would it be? If you are a man, perhaps you would prefer to live in the time of Alexander the Great and watch as he conquers the world. Or maybe you would select the years when Michelangelo amazed Italy with his artistic genius. Or to be alive when the new world was explored by such men as Columbus and Cortez.
If you are a lady, you might select the time when Esther was queen over the land from India to Ethiopia. Or maybe you would desire to be around in the court of Henry VIII and watch his six wives come and go. Or maybe you would select the time frame to witness a woman scientist like Madame Currie make her great discoveries.
Of course if you had been alive during any of those times, you wouldn’t be around now. So perhaps you are content to be a contemporary of this exciting but troubled world. However, if you had to make a choice of living in the past, no doubt, after giving it careful thought, you would select the most important time in the history of the world – the years when Jesus, the Son of God, lived, ministered and died.
Multitudes of people had the great privilege of hearing Jesus in person and seeing the great miracles He performed. But only a very small number knew Him well. Although God ordained we should live in the time and place that we do, He wanted you to have a firm basis on which to know about Jesus and to accept Him as Saviour and Lord.
But how could that best be done? By having someone write down the major events of Jesus’ life so that you could read about and study them. God did that very thing by selecting four men to set down what we call today the four Gospels. In a sense, these men acted as our eyes and ears to the greatest events the world has ever witnessed.
As a child you probably learned their names by heart (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). But how much do we really know about them? Can you give any specific facts concerning each authe