Gospel records - Matthew to John
Matthew gives a very full account of the life of Christ
from birth until the time of ascension. The record covers the narrative aspects of his
life as well as the matters of great spiritual significance.
A number of themes run throughout this gospel record. The
most obvious is the theme that is most central to the whole of Scripture - God has
provided the saviour that He promised in Genesis 3:15 (q.v. Genesis) who will "save
his people from their sins" (1:21).
Associated with this salvation is repentance and baptism
taught first by John the Baptist (3:1 - 2) and endorsed by Jesus (3:13 - 17; 28:19 - 20).
The people to be saved were not only to be Jews but also
Gentiles. Jesus' acceptance of both Jews (the disciples) and Gentiles (12:18,21; 15:24)
demonstrated the availability of God's saving grace to all.
He made constant reference to the Kingdom of God through
his many parables (20:1 - 15; 22:1 - 1) and his miracles were performed to show the glory
of his Father as well as to alleviate the suffering or difficulties of those benefiting
from the miracle (5:16; 15:22,31).
Matthew also presents Jesus as the Son of man as well as
the Son of God, the reason for the genealogy being given in Chapter 1, and he gives a full
account of Jesus' temptation (4:1 - 11) showing that he was "tempted as we are, yet
without sinning" (Hebrews 4:15).
Judgment for sin is another theme evident through the
parables (18:23 - 35) and other addresses (25:31 - 46) and Jesus was particularly severe
on the hypocrisy of the Pharisees who made a pretence of religion but who were inwardly
base (23:13 - 33).
Perhaps the most famous of Scriptural discourses is found
in Chapters 5 through 7, the "Sermon on the Mount". In this Jesus, apart from
giving a foundation for Christian living, endorses the Old Testament scriptures by either
putting them in a new light (5:21, 27 etc) or simply accepting their teaching (5:17 - 20).
1:1 - 2:23 Jesus' birth and childhood
3:1 - 17 John the Baptist
4:1 - 25 Temptation and early ministry
5:1 - 7:29 The Sermon on the Mount
8:1 - 11:30 Miracles and preaching
12:1 - 50 The Pharisees
13:1 - 53 Seven parables of the Kingdom
13:54 - 17:27 Further preaching and conflict with the Pharisees
18:1 -20:34 For the disciples
21:1 - 22:46 Towards Jerusalem
23:1 - 24:51 Warning - prophecy
25:1 - 46 On the Kingdom
26:1 - 27:66 The crucifixion
28:1 - 20 The resurrection
It has been suggested by a number of commentators that the
four gospel writers dwell on a particular aspect of Jesus' life and mission. For example,
in Matthew can be seen Jesus the King. The number of parables and discourses about the
Kingdom support this contention. Luke dwells on Jesus the man, and John specifically
expounds Jesus as the Son of God.
In Mark, Jesus is seen as the servant of God in terms
suggested by Isaiah in 52:13 - 15 and 53:1 - 12. The term "Son of Man" is found
fourteen times in Mark: (2:10, 28; 8:31, 38; 9:9,12,31; 10:33, 45; 13:26,34; 14:21, 62)
and in at least 9 of these the clear association of the suffering servant can be seen.
At the same time, there are seven occurrence of the term
Son of God (or term that implies Son of God) e.g. 1:1,11; 3:11; 5:7; 9:7; 14:61; 15:39. It
seems that the first and last of these set the seal for the whole of the gospel record
according to Mark where in 1:1 we read "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ,
the Son of God ". In 15:39, after Jesus crucifixion, the impressed centurion said
"Truly this man was the Son of God." The two clear aspects of Jesus are
demonstrated in this passage and in the record as a whole. Even the first verse itself
conveys the summary of the book's message. It might be paraphrased this way: "The
beginning of the good news of the kingdom of God (Matthew 9:35) preached by the one by
whom God saves, the anointed, the Son of God."
It is also suggested that the gospel record by Mark was the
first to be written. Mark was the cousin of Barnabus and is mentioned eight times in the
New Testament. His other name was John. Because there are quite a few references to the
Old Testament in this record, it is suggested that perhaps it was written more for
Gentiles who would, initially have less knowledge of Old Testament scriptures.
1:1 - 13 The Prologue
1:14 - 10:52 The Ministry
1:14 - 20 The disciples called
1:21 - 3:12 In the synagogue; teaching and healing
3:13 - 35 Twelve chosen
4:1 - 34 Parables
4:35 - 5:43 Stilling the storm and other miracles
6:1 - 13 Further teaching
6:14 - 29 The death of John the Baptist
6:30 - 10:52 More teaching
11:1 - 16:20 The Crucifixion and Resurrection
11:1 - 26 Entering Jerusalem
11:27 - 13:37 Questions and answers
14:1 - 72 The approaching suffering
15:1 - 47 The trial and the crucifixion
16:1 - 20 The resurrection and ascension
This is the first of two works by Luke. The second is the
Acts of the Apostles. The first work, the gospel record, is an historical account of
Jesus' life, and the second, an historical account of the early preaching of the gospel
beginning from the time of Jesus' ascension.
Luke's gospel is different to the other Gospel records
because of its historical approach. Luke is the physician and historian of the apostles.
It is in this way that Luke records Jesus' ministry in an almost chronological way,
similar to the way in which contemporary historians recorded the work of the time's
political figures. It is also because of this approach that Jesus the man becomes evident.
The almost simplicity of this approach is not to deny the
importance of the record. Luke goes into considerable detail in many events, and in
particular, Jesus' birth. In this, he records the angels' message to Mary, drawing
attention to the salvation possible through Jesus (1:32) and the fulfilment of the promise
made to King David (1:32 - 33; cf 2 Samuel 7:11).
This emphasis sets the scene for the continual presentation
of the theme of the gospel that is continued through the reference to John the Baptist
(1:67 - 80), the events surrounding Jesus' birth (2:10 - 11), and through incidents in
which Jesus indicates that salvation is possible to people in all circumstances. For
example: to the Jews (1:33), to Gentiles, in this case, Samaritans (10:30 - 37), to women
(10:38 - 42) as well as to men, to poor (7:22) and to the rich (19:2), although, for the
rich, salvation is ore difficult (6:24). Above all, Jesus came to call sinners to
repentance (5:32) and that includes us all (Romans 3:23).
It is significant that the record concludes with the
account of Jesus' exposition of the aspects of the law and the prophets which relate to
his ministry, his request that the apostles preach the gospel of repentance and remission
of sins, and a brief account of his ascension (24:44 - 51).
Even though Luke's account is historical, through God's
guidance he never lost sight of the theme of salvation through Jesus.
1:1 - 4 Introduction
1:5 - 2:52 The birth and childhood of Jesus
3:1 - 4:13 Preparation for the ministry - John the Baptist; Jesus' baptism; Jesus'
4:14 - 9:50 The ministry in Galilee - Teaching through parables; Teaching through healing;
9:51 - 19:40 The ministry continues on the way to Jerusalem
19:41 - 21:38 The ministry in Jerusalem -Prophecy
22:1 - 24:53 The crucifixion, resurrection and ascension
The apostle himself explained why he wrote this gospel
account and included the signs (or miracles) that were important.
"These signs are written that you might believe that
Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his
name" (20:30 - 31).
These signs referred to a number of aspects of Jesus'
2:1 - 11 - water into wine. This sign suggests the new
covenant that took the place of the old. The "new" wine was better.
4:43 - 54 - the healing possible in Jesus, not only physical
5:1 - 18 - the mercy shown by Jesus in contrast to the
hardness of the Pharisees.
6:1 - 14 - physical and spiritual sustenance.
6:15 - 21 - the power to create peace.
9:1 - 7 - the light of Jesus contrasted to the darkness of
11:1 - 54 - the power to raise and the hope of the
21:1 - 14 - the power of Jesus to convert men and women so
that none who are gathered in the net will be lost.
Within the framework of these signs and in other important
passages, John gives a very comprehensive insight into Jesus, the Son of God and the
manifestation of his Father.
Jesus was the Word of God (Greek logos - divine
expression (Strong) made flesh (1:1 - 14), the bread of life - "he who eats this
bread will live for ever" (6:58). He was (and is) the Shepherd of his sheep (10:1 -
30) . It was Jesus who was lifted up, symbolically showing how he would overcome the
serpent that was originally responsible for encouraging sin. In this way Jesus fulfilled
prophecy (see Genesis 3:15 and John 3:14).
John shows Jesus more comprehensively than the other gospel
recorders because of the way Jesus' statements are written. Jesus says "I am: - the
way, the truth and the life, the shepherd, the bread of life, the resurrection and the
life, the door (of the sheepfold) the vine, the light of the world."
John records Jesus' statement of God's love:
"God so loved
the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not
perish but have eternal life." (3:16)
1:1 - 18 Introduction: Jesus, the Word of God
1:19 - 51 Jesus, the Son of Man and the Son of God
2:1 - 4:54 Teaching though signs, and the new birth
5:1 - 47 The Son of God
6:1 - 6:71 The bread of life
7:1 - 10:42 The Jews' questions
11:1 - 54 Resurrection
11:55 - 17:26 The Passover - Jesus and his Father
18:1 - 19:42 Jesus' death
20:1 - 31 Jesus' resurrection
21:1 - 25 Final words