Four Gospels – The Message
The four Gospels refer to the first grouping in the Bible’s New Testament and consist of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
Their message shares the “gospel,” meaning the good news of Jesus the Christ as He is the Messiah/Savior, and Son of God—fully human and fully God. His name, given to Mary, was Emmanuel meaning “God with us,” who came in the flesh to atone for our sins (John 3:16). Jesus came to not to be an earthly king, but the heavenly king who will be recognized by all as the King of Kings (Revelation 19:16).1
In the four Gospels, we are shown fulfillment of many Old Testament promises and prophecies (given to the Hebrews) of the coming of the Messiah. These New Testament books tell of Jesus’ birth, lineage, ministry, miracles, crucifixion, miraculous resurrection, and ascension.
Four Gospels – The Authors
The authors of the four Gospels each bring a unique perspective:
Matthew had been a tax-collector, an occupation which reaped the same dislike as many feel for tax-collectors today. Matthew’s account begins with the genealogy of Jesus through the line of King David. The account of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem is known the world over as the Nativity. We also read of Jesus choosing the original 12 disciples, His well-known Sermon on the Mount (Beatitudes), the parables He shared, and the account of Jesus walking on water.
Chapter 26 details the betrayal by Judas Iscariot and the Last Supper, more accurately known as the Passover Meal (Seder). Matthew ends his account with Jesus’ death on the cross, His resurrection from the dead, and in chapter 28, Jesus issues the Great Commission.
Mark was not one of the original 12 disciples, but followed and learned from Paul during his first journey as a missionary. Tradition says that Mark later became a close associate of the Apostle Peter and the Gospel of Mark is Peter’s retelling of the events. The book of Mark is reportedly the first of the Gospels to be written (around AD 55) and records more miracles than any of the other Gospels.
Mark begins setting the stage of Jesus’ ministry by featuring the ministry of John the Baptist. John was God-sent to “prepare the way of the Lord.” He preached primarily to the Roman Christians on “baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.” Though people flocked to hear Mark, he declared another would come who was even mightier than he.
He stated in Mark 1:8 “I baptized you with water; but he shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” After John baptized Jesus (as an example to all), Mark records much concerning Jesus’ public service. Covering Jesus’ ministry in Galilee and beyond, Mark records numerous miracles of healing, casting out demons, and feeding “five thousand from five loaves of bread and two fishes.” Jesus preached about resisting temptation, blessing little children and serving others. Jesus said to resist false gods and false prophets and promised His return for all believers.
Though Mark’s book contains some of the same topics of the other Gospels such as the Crucifixion and Resurrection, he concludes by letting us know that the Lord ascended to heaven and is sitting “on the right hand of God.” About one-third of Mark’s gospel is devoted to the last week of Jesus earthly life.
Luke, unlike the other original disciples, was uniquely well educated as a physician,2 and was a Greek and a Gentile Christian. It is reported that his book was written around AD 60 (about the same time as Matthew was written) from either Rome or Caesarea.
Luke traveled with Paul on his missionary journeys. He presents Jesus as the Savior available to the world and as a compassionate healer and teacher. Luke writes a treasured account of the birth of Jesus in chapter 2. However, he most accurately records the actions and teachings of Christ from the very beginning and helps his readers comprehend the sure way of salvation. His book attests to the way we are to live and become a faithful child of God.
John, the son of Zebedee, was called a “Son of Thunder.” His book was written a bit later than the others around AD 85-90 after the destruction of Jerusalem (in AD 70). This book is often called the book of love.
John’s portrayal of Jesus and His love is clearly shows that Jesus is not just an ordinary human being. John illustrates how Jesus is indeed the eternal Son of God and tells us of Jesus meeting with people personally, preaching to large crowds, and lovingly training His disciples. John shows that this divine man offered “life” and changed the hearts of people from hard and hate-filled to kind and loving. Though not every listener responded or accepted His gift of eternal life, Jesus continued to reveal God to those who would hear.
John recorded many of Jesus’ acts and teachings, as do the first three Gospels, but he distinctively interprets them so we might apply spiritual meaning. He says in John 20:31 “But these have been recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and so that through believing you may have life in his name.” John uses spiritually pertinent words such as love, life, light and living water3 to further impact His message of salvation that is from Jesus to us all.
Four Gospels – How Are These Accounts Relevant Today?
The four Gospel (good news of Jesus) never changes. Hebrew 13:8 says “Jesus, the Messiah, is the same yesterday and today—and forever.” We must keep our daily life focused on Christ, for He is our hope and our salvation. Unlike any human, He is unchanging and will never let us down.
The Gospels show us that people like Matthew can be saved from their past. By the new life given Matthew through obeying the calling from Jesus, he had a purpose with integrity, acceptance, and a meaningful righteous way of life. Jesus will do the same for you.
1 Read Isaiah 45:20-24; Romans 14:1
2 Read Colossians 4:14
3 Read John 4:9-14; John 7:38
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