Morrison's ablaze in Penrith. Please click on slides for larger picture
The first question we might ask is "Why four Gospels". The answer is quite simple. The Bible presents four different points of view. Whenever there is some spectacular event, watched by spectators of various ages and cultures, one would always expect to receive very varied accounts of what actually happened. For example, if a major departmental store was set on fire, it would soon attract the attention of a crowd. A small boy would have his attention drawn towards the fire engines and the firemen. A young lady would be alarmed at the destruction of all the beautiful modern clothes, seen to be going up in smoke. A doctor might be concerned about the human casualties and the chairman of the chamber of trade and commerce might be already weighing up the costs of the inferno. If an object were to be placed in the centre of a room, and four artists all drew or assigned its image to canvas, we would see that all would produce a different picture. In fact we could expect to see two pairs of opposite points of view. this is what we find in the four gospels. Matthew is opposite to Mark, and Luke is opposite to John. We call this the cubed view. All four writers saw Jesus through their own eyes. The style and content of each gospel tells us something of the writers.
The Cubed View
So we can see how we have two pairs of opposites. A King is opposite to a Servant, for one gives commands and one obeys commands, and Luke sees a Man but John see God. Two more opposite points of view would be difficult to imagine. Especially Luke and John. Many natural minds cannot understand how Jesus was both God and Man. This cubed view tells us that we cannot possibly view both at the same time. There are two other dimensions we need to consider, which are Heaven and Hell
How each Gospel begins and ends
Now we will see how what we have said, is seen just from considering how each writer chooses to begin and end their account of the Gospel. Please check your bible as you read. Matthew in presenting Jesus as a King begins from the first verse to show how Jesus has royal blood being a descendant of King David. As we move into the gospel we see that Matthew begins his account of the ministry of Jesus with the Sermon on the Mount. (chs 5-7) This sermon constitues the commands of the King, to all his subjects who have been born into his kingdom, how to behave in this earthly kingdom. Matthew chooses to end his gospel with what we call "The Great Commission". Jesus commands (as a King) his disciples (or subjects) to go out into all the world and expand his Kingdom by teaching others his commands, thus bringing more men and women to become his subjects. So wherever we see the gospel being preached we see a "Royal Command" performance.
Mark makes no mention of the first 30 years of his life. He starts his story when Jesus comes on the scene as a Servant of God. In presenting Jesus as a Prophet (servant) from God, he fittingly quotes three great prophets (servants) of the past. This can be seen as similar to any of us applying for a job of service and presenting our credentials, in the form of references. We have references from Isaiah, the writer of the first of the Old Testament prophetical books and from Malachi, the final prophetical book in the Old Testament. Thirdly we have a reference from John the Baptist, just six months older than Jesus. Jesus later inferred that John was the greatest of all the prophets, certainly there were none better. When we check out the ending of Mark we see Jesus the servant still "working" with the disciples, whom he was sending out and commanding them what to do, rather than what to say, for what Jesus did in miracles confirmed the truth of what they were preaching.
Luke, sees the humanity of Jesus, which fits him well to be our High Priest, the first necessary attribute of anyone taking this office, is that he should be one of the people for whom he intercedes. So we see Luke's Gospel as the gospel of the Temple- It begins in the temple, under the old testament dispensation. Here we see a priest who is struck dumb because of his unbelief. We also read of his family and the details of his birth, Noticeably, also we read in chapter three the lineage of Jesus going all the way back to Adam. This endorsing that he had been born human. The Gospel ends with a completely different picture of the Disciples receiving a farewell blessing from Jesus (the high Priest) and they themselves, "continually in the temple praising God". In contrast to the dumbness of Zachariah at the beginning.
John sees Jesus as the Son of God. So he begins where man's perception of God begins, as per Gen ch 1 v 1; -"in the Beginning." How does it end? Well, how could God end? Surely never. So John says the story of Jesus, the Son of God is unending and uncontainable, were every book in every library to be filled with his story.
The "Gospel" from the Gospels.
When we preach Christ, we preach the One who is the answer to mankind’s basic needs. From Matthew’s viewpoint we preach Christ as King From Mark’s viewpoint we preach Christ as our supreme Example. From Luke’s viewpoint we preach Christ as a Friend, Brother & Saviour From John’s viewpoint we preach Christ as our God to worship.
1. We need a KING. to rule over us. One of our greatest misconceptions is that we have the ability to rule our own lives. Unfortunately such is not the case. The facts of life as taught from the bible are that we either serve God or Satan. The latter is usually in the material form of mammon, or money. The selfishness which is necessary in the serving of money makes man a slave to sin. Sin rules in every unregenerate heart. When we surrender to Christ, and allow him to reign in our hearts, only then do we know real freedom. Christ gives us our life back. But the second time around we aim to do His will rather than what we were tempted to believe was “our own”. 2. We need an EXAMPLE to follow. The vast majority of folk would speak of Christ as an example even if they didn’t follow him. For as humans we require a practical example of how to please God. Jesus said “it is enough for the disciple to be as His master”. The significance of the “washing of feet,” was not in the act but in the Person who did the act. “This is our God”. God is humble by nature. He resists the proud but gives grace to those who are humble. 3. We need another human to be our FRIEND or BROTHER, and most of all our Priest & Saviour “What a friend we have in Jesus” is a favourite hymn of thousands for this reason. Someone to share our joys and sorrows is so necessary at times. Thankfully there is one who understands our weaknesses and there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. The wonderful thing about Jesus being our High priest is that he is not ashamed to call us his brethren. All too often in family life the “black sheep” of the family will bring shame upon the family name. Some family members are ashamed to name the offender as a brother. But Jesus isn’t ashamed of us, despite the wickedness we perpetrated at the cross. Yet there he cried for our forgiveness and today we realise what he was really accomplishing on the cross. It is our joy and salvation to look upon Him now as our SAVIOUR. 4. We need a God to worship. Man’s fundamental need is a God to worship. Man is happy when he is worshipping. The fanaticism of football crowds or the great applause from a golf gallery as their heroes approach the final hole, reveals a mass of very happy people. They have sacrificed and given hundreds of pounds to be there, but no-one complains. The pop stars are idolised by young people but all the pop stars do for them is take their money from them so that they themselves can live in great mansions and do very little work, compared to the harsh reality of the weekly toils by the punters. But the Good News of the Gospel is that this God doesn’t take anything from us, that he hasn’t already given and with it comes a guarantee that everything we give will be given back to us again, pressed down, shaken together and running over. The gods of this world, take, take and take from us. Our God, the Father of Jesus Christ, gives and gives and gives again. There is a song which says, His love knows no limits His grace knows no measure His power knows no boundaries, known unto men For out of the infinite riches in Jesus He giveth and giveth and giveth again. Don’t you just want to Praise Him?
Click slide to enlarge In Ezekiel chapter 1 we read that Ezekiel had a vision in which he saw a creature with four faces. These were, a Lion, an, Ox, a Man, and an Eagle. These faces are also to be seen in the throne in Revelation.
Rev 4:6-7 And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle. Furthermore when the children of Israel marched in four groups (of three tribes in each) these symbols were on the banners of the leading group. It surely would take the deepest scepticism of the greatest unbeliever to deny the inspiration of these symbolic visions. It hardly needs explanation to say that the Lion equates with the King, the Ox (or Calf) with a Servant, a Man equates with the human face in Luke’s gospel and the Eagle as one from the heavenlies, as recorded in John.
Prophet Priest and King
This theme of Prophet, Priest and King is one of the most common throughout the Old Testament. These offices were those which were specifically divinely appointed. They were all ordained into their office with the anointing of oil. Oil in scripture is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. It was prophesied of Jesus that he would be A Prophet like Moses A Priest like Meklchisedeck A King like David No Old Testament character held all three offices. Significantly all the three types of Christ had an alternative office Moses was also a PRIEST Melchisedec was also a KING David was also a PROPHET. King Saul was also “numbered among the prophets” but when he took on the duties of a priest and offered sacrifices, God struck him from his plans and purposes immediately, because he marred the divine prophetic tapestry. Only Jesus was all three. He was called the “Anointed One”. The word “One” is as significant as the word “Anointed”. Matthew saw Jesus as a King who came to establish His Kingdom. Mark saw Jesus as a Servant of Jehovah, the title shared with the prophets of the Old Testament. Luke portrays the Humanity and Priesthood of Jesus. The essential characteristic of a priest is that he is one of the people. Jesus was totally identified with mankind. Significantly Luke’s Gospel is also the gospel of the temple. It begins and ends in the temple. It is also the gospel of Prayer.- .a very human and priestly characteristic
HERE THEN IS A FINAL SUMMARY CHART OF WHAT WE HAVE SAID SO FAR. IF YOU ARE SERIOUS ABOUT STUDYING THE GOSPELS, THEN MAY I SUGGEST YOU COPY THIS OUT A FEW TIMES UNTIL YOU HAVE ASSIGNED IT TO MEMORY.
The Pyramid View of the 4 Gospels
Three gospels based on John's gospel: A closer study of John’s gospel reveals it to be a record of selected events. John selects the “cream” events, and in so doing sums up the other three gospels. It is quite surprising that the writers of the synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark & Luke, all seem to miss the best stories as far as their inspiration is concerned. In one way it endorses the inspiration, for had they deliberately (without inspiration) conspired together to emphasise a certain aspect of Christ’s person, they would have certainly included those that John seems to have remembered and they forgotten.
For example; The greatest command of the King is not found in Matthew but in John; “This is my Commandment, that you love one another” The greatest example of service is not found in Mark but in John, ch.13 when he washed the disciples feet. The clearest insight into the human empathy of Jesus is not found in Luke but in John where in ch.11 we read “Jesus wept”. (These things will no doubt be re-iterated when we look more closely in John’s gospel.) Also one would have therefore thought that Luke would have included the prophecy that Jesus gave concerning the future destruction of the Temple, for it almost sums up both the poverty of the Jewish religion and the riches of the New People of God in a single phrase. Such however is the nature of John’s inspiration. Seeing Luke’s inspiration is a blessing in itself.
The KEY events in each Gospel:
Once again we see that each writer chooses to begin their record of the events in the ministry of Jesus at the very beginning- and they are all different. We should expect the key to be at the beginning anyway. They sum up and illustrate the emphasis of each gospel. Once the baptism of Jesus is over then we read of these events; Matthew begins with the Sermon on the Mount. This is the King giving HIS COMMANDS to those in HIS KINGDOM on how they should live while in this earthly Kingdom. No other King or ruler gave such commands. Mark begins with the record of one sabbath day in the life of Jesus as an example blueprint of how we should serve God Luke begins His ministry by recording the first sermon that Jesus preached in his home town of Nazareth. We should deal with this more fully later but for the present we see Jesus speaking of himself as a Physician and outlining the symptoms of the eternally fatal disease of Mankind. That disease is sin and Jesus came to produce a remedy for it. Finally John presents Jesus as God and opens his post-baptism account by recording the wedding feast at Cana where he changed the water into wine. As we will see this is very symbolic of the Old and New Testaments or of human life which runs out and divine abundant everlasting Life which he came to give. All these we shall expound as we look at each Gospel in turn.
The Cross in the Four Gospels;
In Matthew the cross is as a sword with which Jesus slew the enemy and rival prince, having advanced from heaven into his territory, (earth) and then progressed into the very headquarters of Satan’s Kingdom- Death & Hell. Man's greatest unconquerable enemy is Death, for all who don't believe in Jesus. But not for those who truly believe in Jesus. 1 Cor 15:55-57: 55 O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. In Mark it is as an altar where the servant Ox was slain after faithful years of service. The American Missionary Society has an emblem and a Motto. The Emblem shows an Ox and an Altar. The Motto is "Ready for Either" All Service leads to Sacrifice but sacrifice leads to Sovereignty In Luke we may see a fountain of blood, the antidote of sin. Medically we might be reminded of a syringe which not only is fountain like in its spray, but is used as a means to inject the antidote. Some folk think the thought of a "fountain of blood" is barbaric, but the cross was barbaric, and the cure for sin is not supplied as a trickle but a fountain for all to wash in and no one wants a shower that washes with a trickle. But maybe the little spurt from the syringe might be more acceptable to visualise. And it emphasises the importance of the cleansing blood to be applied individually In John the cross is definitely a cup which the Son agreed to drink in obedience to His Father. As the wine at the wedding, it speaks of fellowship, unity and life. The cross was an agreement between Father & Son. Like Abraham and Isaac of old, "they went both together up the mountain"