It’s more than you think
The last four blogs have been looking for the main point of each of the four Gospel writers, Matthew, Luke, Mark and John. Deliberately out of the order in the New Testament because I was relating what I said to what the medieval symbols depicted:
Man, Ox, Lion and Eagle depicting Incarnation, Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension respectively. Four aspects of the Gospel from four different writers.
Different parts of the Christian church have an emphasis on the different aspects. I know they all celebrate the whole of it, but when you compare them to each other the emphasis comes out.
Catholicism is the denomination of the incarnation. No one celebrates Christmas harder, of puts more emphasis on Jesus’ mother Mary than Catholics.
Evangelicals emphasise the cross. The crucifixion, Jesus dying for all (or for the elite if you are Calvinist) as a substitute for sinful people is central to their understanding.
I never really had any understanding of what the Resurrection of Jesus meant in isolation before a conversation with a Greek Orthodox priest. We are raised together with Christ for good works. Not that we are saved by good works, the crucifixion is before the resurrection, but God has work for us as a consequence of out being saved.
Then there’s the Charismatics and Pentecostalists. Jesus ascended and sent the Holy Spirit. Their emphasis on the gifts of the Spirit is a faith of ascension.
What I am saying is that we need all these emphases. There is not one greater than the others. We need all four Gospels to have a full picture of who Jesus was and what he did, and likewise, I believe that the Church would be better served if we listened to each other and shared our emphases.
There are other ways of looking at the different Gospel writers. American Baptist Pastor and theologian Warren W. Wiersbe, in his introduction to his commentary on Matthew’s Gospel says:
Matthew’s book is called “the Gospel of the King.” It was perfect “Son written primarily for Jewish readers. Mark’s book, “the Gospel of the Servant,” was written to instruct Roman readers. Luke wrote mainly for Greeks and presented Christ as the perfect “Son of Man.” John’s appeal is universal, and his message was “This is the Son of God.”
No one Gospel is able to tell the whole story as God wants us to see it. But when we put these four Gospel accounts together, we have a composite picture of the person and work of our Lord.
Another way of looking at it is this: (Sermon writers will like this as all the points start with the same letter of the alphabet. It is a bit contrived to make it fit though, as is the nature of these same letter sermons 🙂 )
- Rest: God saved us, not on the basis of deeds we have done, but according to His mercy.
- Removal: God is saying: You owe me nothing, your debts, your sins have have been removed from you and carried way.
- Redemption: We are brought back into a relationship with God.
- Release: Our sins have been utterly dealt with. We are free to come to God and free to live for him.
The same God who is out there, who is different from what he has made is the same God who is in here, in our hearts, in our lives.
As I think over these things I am truly astounded. God is amazing.