Summary: This message is a part of a series that surveys the entire Bible. It is based upon the study guide from an older Chuck Swindoll series. This message surveys Matthew-John.
Why are there four Gospels? They all say the same thing don’t they? All four of the Gospel writers paint a detailed portrait of Jesus, but each writes from a unique perspective. It could be said that if we put all four of the Gospels together, we would have a more complete picture of Jesus. Some critics have tried to point out contradictions because of these differences. But each Gospel writer provides us with a picture of Jesus’ life and ministry from a unique perspective so naturally you would expect some differences. If all four Gospels were exactly the same we would doubt their reliability and accuse them of copying off one another. As we survey these four Gospels, we will discover that these slight variations actually support their authenticity. Today, I want us to discover the distinctiveness of each Gospel and see the wonderful portrait that they paint of our Savior and Lord.
I. Understanding the uniqueness of each Gospel.
A. The book of Matthew.
1. The portrait of Jesus painted by Matthew is that of a royal king with great authority.
2. Matthew’s audience is Jewish and the genealogy that is included holds great importance because it helps prove that He is the Messiah, a descendant of David in the line of Abraham.
3. Matthew quotes the Old Testament more than any other Gospel writer because from a Jewish perspective it is essential to see how the messianic prophesies are fulfilled in Jesus.
4. In fact the key verse of Matthew’s Gospel is a quotation from the prophet Zechariah.
5. This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: “Say to the Daughter of Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’ ” (Matthew 21:4-5—NIV)
B. The book of Mark.
1. The portrait of Jesus painted by Mark is that of a humble servant.
2. Mark’s main audience is Roman so the genealogy and prophesies are not that important.
3. Instead of dealing with long discourses he packs a lot of action in his brief Gospel.
4. The key verse of Mark really puts an exclamation point on the humble servant theme. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45—NIV)
C. The book of Luke.
1. Luke a Greek physician and historian is the writer of the third Gospel. His readers appreciate achievement, beauty, culture and big ideas.
2. In true Greek fashion Luke paints a portrait of Jesus being the ideal man. Luke skillfully sketches Jesus’ life with great detail. His genealogy traces Him back to Adam. His birth, childhood, His relationships and sufferings all highlight Jesus’ humanity.
3. Luke includes more of Jesus’ teachings then the other writers. His Gospel includes the stories of the “Good Samaritan” and the “Prodigal Son.”
4. The key verse of Luke highlights the fact that Jesus has great compassion for fallen humanity. “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:10—NIV)
D. The book of John.
1. John writes several years after the other three Gospel writers and paints a portrait of Jesus’ divinity. The other writers painted Jesus as a king, servant and the ideal man but John shows that He is much more than these, He is God.
2. John’s Gospel is more universal in nature; it is intended for all people. He chooses to include seven miraculous signs that prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that Jesus is the Son of God.
a. Changing water into wine. (2:1-11)
b. Healing the royal official’s son. (4:46-54)
c. Healing the man beside the pool of Bethesda. (5:1-9)
d. Feeding the five thousand. (6:5-14)
e. Walking on the water. (6:16-21)
f. Healing the man born blind. (9:1-7)
g. Raising Lazarus from the dead. (11:1-45)
3. John brings his readers to the point of decision. We either accept Jesus as the Son of God or reject Him and head toward eternal death.
4. The key verse is quite unique among the Gospel writers because it expresses John’s purpose for writing.
5. 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—NIV)
II. Helpful hints for understanding the Gospels.
A. What are the synoptic Gospels?
1. Matthew, Mark and Luke are known as the synoptic Gospels. The word synoptic is made up of two Greek words and literally means “seen together.” The words are syn which means together and opsis which means view.