I think that you will find this “Study” most enlightening and instructive. In the next few weeks I shall distribute the “Easter Story” and after that the “Utterances of Our Saviour from the Cross”. I am confident that you will be amazed at some of the material which is presented to us in the Holy Scriptures and somehow neglected from today’s pulpit. Please stay with me as we explore the Wonders of God’s Holy Word, and the simplicity from which it is presented…
“Search the Scriptures…
They are they which testify of me.”
Searching the Scriptures
By: Bob Moses
Revised: March 2011
The Four Gospels
Several have taken up this subject: Andrew Jukes, A.W. Pink, from his writings “Why Four Gospels”, first published 1921, and reprinted 1977; from which we have gleaned much of the material for this “Study”. Dr. C. I. Scofield and a host of others, including Henry Clarence Thiessen, formerly Chairman of the Faculty of the Graduate School, Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois, who wrote; “Introduction to the New Testament”, in 1943, from which we shall quote some of his various contributions upon our subject, The Four Gospels. I have not seen any writings in recent years concerning the Four Gospels therefore it is this writers desire to offer a brief outline and share the wonderful lessons contained upon this topic. This is not intended to be an exhaustive work, but rather a revelation of the labors which others have brought before us. We give Glory to God, for the penmanship of those who came before us, and to whom this material is now quite refreshing, as we await the return of our Lord.
The first question which comes to mind is why do we have four gospels? They all share basically the same story, viz; the earthly ministry of our Lord while he dwelt among us. They tell us of his birth, death, burial and resurrection. They speak of His sayings, His miracles, His conduct and a biography of His life. Undoubtedly untold sermons, Bible Studies and Sunday school lessons have been presented to the masses throughout the ages since the Apostles first penned these precious books. However, a mere glance of each Gospel individually, nor the whole put together, provide a complete biography of our Saviour. We read of His infancy, but then nothing more of Him, until we find Him in the Temple of Jerusalem at the age of twelve. Then nothing further comes before us until He reaches the age of thirty and begins His public ministry. We are given a glimpse, behind the veil, in the words of the Apostle John, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written” (John 21:25).
Therefore, if the Gospels are not a biography of our Lord, then what are they? They are four books divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit, each with a distinctive character and design. Please let it be noted; that each writer, as led by the Holy Spirit, was confronted with a definite need. The Holy Spirit formed a definite purpose for each Gospel; and that he selected these men with that object in view. Basically what we shall see before us is four different views, and four different offices held by our Lord Jesus Christ. A simple illustration should clarify our remark. Let’s take the average man in today’s world. He is a son to his parents, a husband to his wife, an employee to his boss and a father to his children; nevertheless he is still just one man. Regardless of his age, his parents see him as their boy. His wife sees him as the love of her life, the provider for their family and her security and strength. His employer sees him as a good worker, a man who knows his job, and contributes to the business. His children see him as Daddy, the man who takes them on piggy-back rides, teaches them to throw a ball, ride a bike, catch a fish, and carry them home when they get tired nevertheless, a complete man. In the paragraphs which follow, we shall see Our Lord in entirely different revelations from four separate viewpoints, and yet as the One Man. No less than the God-Man Himself.
Matthew, being the first in the order of things, in the New Testament has been the most widely read and has exerted a most powerful influence in the world. Among the scholars, Matthew was given first place because it was considered to be the earliest Gospel written; most likely around A.D. 50. Bear in mind that the original Christians were Jewish. Matthew wrote to encourage and confirm the persecuted Jewish Christians in their faith, to prove that the Gospel was not a contradiction of the teachings of the Old Testament, but rather a fulfillment of the promises made to Abraham and to David.
How does he set to prove this? By submitting proof that Jesus in His person is the foretold divine-human Messiah; that His words and works are those predicted of the Messiah; that the nation (through its leaders) slew Him; that His death was yet a ransom for many; that He has rejected the nation for the time being; that the “kingdom” will assume a new form during the time of the nation’s rejection; that He will build His Church during this time; that His followers are commissioned to carry the Gospel to all nations; and that Christ will return to reward His followers and set up His kingdom. (Mr. Thiessen).
Here in Matthew we see our Lord presented as the son of David, the Messiah, the King of the Jews. That this Gospel is Jewish in character is right before us in the very first chapter and verse; “The book of the “generation” of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham”. One might ask who was Matthew to write of the “generations” of Jesus Christ? The answer is not hard to find. Matthew himself was a Jew and was raised up in the oracles and chronicles of the Talmud. He was undoubtedly familiar with the body of the Hebrew civil and canonical laws, traditions, and explanations. One might reverse the question, who else could be better qualified to write this particular Gospel, other than perhaps, Paul, who before his conversion was a member of the Sanhedrin. The point being that Matthew certainly held the necessary credentials, as the author. He is the only one of the four Evangelists who present Christ in an “official” relationship, namely, as the Messiah and King of Israel. Matthew himself was the only one of the four who filled an “official” position as a tax-gatherer in the employ of the Romans. Thus he presents Christ in Kingdom connections, as the One who possessed the title to reign over Israel. He, Matthew, was a publican and his job was to collect Jewish taxes. Tax-gatherers were hated by the Jews more so than the Romans themselves. Thus could Matthew certainly relate when he wrote of the One who was “hated without a cause, despised and rejected” by his own nation. All this displays, yet again, the wisdom of God the Father in choosing those whom He elects to do His bidding. Only He, who knows the ending from the beginning, could orchestrate such extraordinary evidence of His Will.
Numerically, it is interesting to note that Matthew has 28 chapters; the study of numerology would break this down as 7 times 4. Seven is the number of Godly perfection and four is the number of the earth. What we see before us is the Gospel which speaks of God’s earthly people (the number seven) and the earthly Kingdom of Christ (the number four); most fitting.
In Matthew, we see the setting forth of the royal genealogy of Jesus as strikingly evident. This is the only book which takes us back to Christ being the son of David and the son of Abraham, thus establishing the blood-line which enables Jesus to become King. Another interesting observation is revealed should we take the time to go to the Book of Genesis, chapter 5. This chapter of Scripture is known as the “death” chapter, because in it all die, from Adam to Methuselah and Lamech, the father of Noah. Enoch was spared as we read in verse 24: “And Enoch walked with God; and he was not; for God took him”. This of course, is a type or picture, of the rapture which is yet future for us Christians. We mentioned Noah; he too, was spared as we read in Chapter 6: vs. 8; “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord”. In contrast, we find in this first Chapter of Matthew, where the generations of Jesus Christ are portrayed, that behold 42 generations come before us, and we do not read that anyone died. We know, of course that they did die physically, but it is not recorded. Why? Because in Adam all die; in Christ all live!! Adam represents man in the flesh, the dust of the earth. Jesus represents man in the Spirit, the Godly part of man. The flesh shall die, the Spirit shall not. II Corinthians: 5, 6-8; “Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight); We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”
I wish to bring another element into our discussion, which I shall address within the review of each of these Four Gospels. This element is the fact that all studies of the Holy Canon, lest we go astray, must pass the test of comparing scripture with scripture. We will therefore compare only one prophesy of the King, in the Old Testament, as presented here in Matthew, with the ultimate fulfillment, as recorded in the Book of Revelation.
Therefore, what saith the Old Testament regarding this man Jesus? Jeremiah 23; vs. 5 & 6: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In His days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is His name whereby He shall be called. THE LORD OF OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” Following into the New, we choose to go to the Book of Revelation chapter 4 verse 7: “And the first beast was like a lion…”, then chapter 5 verse 5: “And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.”. What more proof could we seek? The lion, which is king of the beast, is an apt symbol and in perfect harmony with the character in which Christ is set forth in this first Gospel, viz., the Son of David and the King of the Jews, as foretold in the Book of Jeremiah.
The gospel of Mark brings before us Jesus, as a Servant or Slave, the mighty Worker of Jehovah. It is the gospel of “deeds” rather than words. The key verse in this gospel is in Chapter 10 vs. 45. “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister”. Mark has 16 chapters, which is 2 times 8. Two is the number of witness and 8 the number of a new beginning. In this book we see Christ portrayed as the faithful and true witness, the perfect servant, and laying down the foundation for the new creation. Mark was not an apostle of Jesus, but rather “an associate” of the apostles and is mentioned in the writings of Paul and Luke. This is noteworthy. In 2 Tim. 4:11 we read “Take Mark, and bring him with thee; for he is profitable to me for the ministry.” Thus the one who wrote of our Lord as the Servant of God, was himself one who “ministered” to others.
We note here in the opening verses of Mark an omission, which is most significant. You will recall the opening verses of Matthew, “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham, etc.” Mark opens; “ The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.” We see Christ at the beginning of his public ministry. The omission is there is no genealogy. Why? It reflects Christ as a servant, or slave and who cares about the genealogy of a slave? This gospel is directed to the Romans and Gentiles, and was presumably written around A.D. 67 or 68.
Christ, as the Servant of God the Father, was not an unreal or foreign concept, to Mark. As the Book of Acts portray, Mark himself, came from a wealthy home possessing servants. (Ref: Acts; 12: 12 --14). This remarkable blend of strength and submission, achieving victory through apparent defeat, fitted him both to appreciate and record the character and doings of the perfect Servant. For the Roman Christians such a heroic figure would have a peculiar fascination. Mark sets forth in detail the Servant’s defeat and final triumph, in the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. Please read this remarkable Gospel.
It is interesting to note that in the Gospel of Matthew we see Christ presented as the King, yet also as the Servant of God. Matt: 12: 18, “Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased.” Whereas in Mark we see Him represented, as Servant, but also as King. (Mark 11:10), “Blessed be the kingdom of our father, David, that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.” The mention of the three wise men is omitted because a “servant” is not one that receives homage. In Matthew we find three whole chapters devoted to the Sermon on the Mount; Mark does not even address it. Why? Because the Sermon on the Mount contains the King’s Manifesto, it sets forth the laws of His Kingdom, this is outside the scope of Mark’s Gospel. A Servant has no Kingdom. Can you begin to understand the simplicity and accuracy of the perfections of the Scriptures?
In Matthew we are presented with the sevenfold ; “Woe” – “Woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites,” “Woe unto ye blind guides” etc., but again no mention in Mark. The reason is obvious. It is not the part of the Servant to pass judgment on others, but “to be gentle to all, apt to teach, patient” (2 Tim. 2:24).”
I would be remiss if I did not present to my readers a most significant word which several of the commentators have expounded upon regarding the Book of Mark. The Greek word is “Eutheos”, which is variously translated “forthwith, straightway, immediately” etc. No less than five times in the opening chapter of Mark do we see some derivative of this word being applied. Mark 1: vs. 12, “And immediately the spirit driveth Him into the wildersness. (vs. 20 & 21), And straightway he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him. And they went into Capernaum and straightway on the Sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught”. (Vs. 29) “And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.” (Vs. 31), “And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up, and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto the”. This word is used at least forty times in this Gospel. What we see here is how God’s Servant performed His duties. There was no tardiness; He went about His Fathers business with a sense of urgency. There was no holding back, no reluctance, no slackness. He knew His ministry would only last a few years, three and a half to be exact. He went about His Fathers business with enthusiasm and unparalleled vigor, to complete His mission. If only we could do the same, particularly in these last days.
In our former preceding comments on the Book of Matthew, we noted the comparing of scripture with scripture. In Mark we also have revealed to us an Old Testament confirmation; Zachariah 3: 8, “Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee; for they are men wondered at; for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH.” In Revelation 4:7 we read “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 ”. Remember the first beast in Revelation 4:7, was like unto the gospel of Matthew. How do we correlate the book of Mark with this second beast, like a calf? A better rendering of the word used here as calf, would be a young ox. Unger’s Bible Dictionary defines “Calf”, as the young of the ox species. The frequent mention in scripture of calves is due to their common use in sacrifices. (Page 167 Unger’s Bible Dictionary). 1st Timothy 5:18 “For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.” Does not the young ox typify Christ as the Divine Worker, Slave and Servant of Jehovah? Further, is “He”, not worthy of, His ultimate reward?? Even unto His sacrifice, as the Sin Offering unto God the Father on the Cross? How perfect is the Word of God, and the Holy Spirit’s guidance in teaching us to “Rightly divide the word of truth”. II Tim.2:15
Luke, “the beloved physician”, (Colossians 4: 14); reveals Christ as “The Son of Man”. It is also widely held that Luke was a Gentile. In Matthew we see the “Jewish” Gospel and in Luke we see a more cosmopolitan or international view. In Matthew we read of the “Fig Tree”, a well known symbol of Israel. Luke states, however “and all the trees”, which makes our point clear. The key verse in his Gospel is Ch. 19:10: “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost”. Luke has 24 chapters, 6 x 4, or 12 x 2, which both apply. The number 6 speaks of man, and it is Luke who records (“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary” (Luke 1:26, 27). For man was created on the sixth day. The number 4 is of the earth. Thus we have not only man, but the Son of man connected with the earth. It is His humanity, and how entirely human He was, that we see demonstrated in this book. Twelve speaks of government and hints of that perfect government which awaits the return to the earth of the “Second Man”, Jesus.
The very position of this Gospel in the Holy Canon speaks volumes. It is the third Book of the New Testament, and the forty-second in the Bible as a whole. Each of the numbers are profoundly significant and suggestive. Three is the number of manifestation, and particularly, the manifestation of God and His activities. It is in the Three Persons of the Blessed Trinity that the one true and living God is fully revealed. Hence, also, three is the number of resurrection, for resurrection is when life is fully manifested. Appropriately, then, is Luke’s Gospel the third book of the New Testament, for here it is we are shown, as nowhere else , God manifest in the flesh. Also, Luke’s Gospel is the forty-second book in the Bible as a whole, and this is even more significant, for the number 42 is 7 x 6. Seven stands for perfection, while six is the number of man: putting the two together we get “the Perfect Man”! And this is what the Holy Spirit brings before us in this forty-second Book of the Bible. What an evidence this is, not only of the Divine inspiration of Scripture but, that God has unmistakably superintended the placing of the different books in the Sacred Cannon. (A.W. Pink)
Should one ask what is meant by the “second man”, let us digress for just a moment. Mankind overall, honors the firstborn son. God always chooses the second son. A few brief examples. Cain was the firstborn son of Adam and Eve, God however honored Able, the second son of Adam and Eve. Should you ask why God accepted Able’s sacrifice over that of Cain, the answer is again so simple that we miss it. Cain brought forth his works, the labor of his hands, viz; the crop’s of the field. Able brought forth the blood of his flock, viz; the blood of sacrifice necessary for redemption. Let’s us allow the scriptures to speak for themselves. Genesis 4: 3-5 “And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. And Able, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect”. Remember God, upon discovering the sin of Adam and Eve, in their hastening unto Satan, covered their nakedness with the coats of skins, and clothed them.
Gen. 3: 21: “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” From whence did the “skins” come from? Obviously from an animal. Thus these two sons were well aware that the penalty of sin was assuaged only by the blood. Nevertheless, Cain brought his works before God, while Able brought the sacrifice. How simple yet, how evasive, to the human heart. It proves beyond doubt that the heart of man, is naturally at amenity against God
The two sons of Abraham were Ishmael the first born, Isaac the second, yet it was Isaac that God chose to continue the bloodline to Jesus. Then, Isaac had two sons, twins nevertheless, Esau and Jacob. While Esau came forth out of his mother’ womb first, God declares:“As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” Romans 9:13. Aaron was three years older than Moses, but can anyone question the fact that Moses was chosen of God? Adam was the first man. God however refers to Jesus as His Son. “Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH.” Zech: 6:12. I have written an entire “Study” upon this subject, I hope you will take the time toread it.
While we are near this ground, let us return to the Book of Revelation ever so briefly, as we have in Matthew and Mark and note the third beast. The third beast of Revelation 4:7 had a face as a man. In Luke, Jesus comes before us as the Son of Man. How appropriate.
Luke traces the genealogy of Christ back to Adam and Luke also tells us at what age Christ began His ministry. Luke 3: 22 & 23: “And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.” And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of He’li”. Then begins the bloodline from Jesus to Adam; beginning from verse 24 thru 38.
The aforementioned having been stated, Luke is the only gospel writer to trace the genealogy of Jesus all the way back to Adam. This sets forth Christ as the Son of Man, as connected with, but contrasted from the sons of men. In this gospel we also see Him as the perfect man, and frequently in prayer, and angels ministering to Him, instead of commanded by Him as they are in Matthew. Matthew mentions the virgin birth, but it is here in Luke, that we are given much detail. Why? Because Luke was a physician, and the virgin birth was something very special and out of the ordinary. It is interesting that Luke details both the birth of John the Baptist and the birth of Jesus the Christ. The former, whose mother was too old to bare a child, and the latter who was immaculately conceived by the Holy Spirit, without knowing a man. Only Luke could write such a gospel.
One of the elders of our time, Mr. Moorehead, states that “Luke’s design is “mainly to set forth the perfections of the Son of man as the Friend and Redeemer of men, the Savior of all that believe and receive Him”. In a very special sense Messiah was to be the Redeemer of His people. He was to discharge in full the awful debt they had incurred, and to secure their complete deliverance. Luke’s object is mainly to reveal the redemption wrought out by our glorious Kinsman-Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ. Here for the first time in the New Testament do we meet with the word redemption. Luke 1: 68, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people.”(Thiessen).
Some interesting notes: In the four Gospels we see Christ praying 15 times, 11 of which are in the Gospel of Luke. Luke makes much of Praise and Thanksgiving. It begins and ends with worship in the temple. Luke 1: 8 & 9, Concerning Zacharias, “And it came to pass, that while he (Zacharias) executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his course, According to the custom of the priest’s office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.”. Then ending with Christ, 24:51-51; “And it came to pass, while He blessed them, He was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. And they worshipped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.” We find women and children most prominent in this Gospel. Luke records 20 miracles of Christ of which 6 are only to be found in this Gospel, and 23 parables, of which 18 are only listed here.
In Matthew, Christ is seen testing Israel, in Mark, Christ appears as serving Israel. Luke’s Gospel reveals to us Christ’s Manhood, God manifested in the flesh, “The Son of Man”, and in John we will see Christ viewed as the Son of God, The “Spiritual One” in whom the Church finds it’s delight. What a marvelous revelation if only we take the scales from upon our eyes.
As we conclude this scanning of the Book of Luke, I would point out that we have not even scratched the surface of this enlightening Gospel. It is my hope that I may revisit this in a more expository fashion in the near future. It is filled with instruction and teachings which time will not allow us to pursue within the scope of this “Study” of the Four Gospels. Let us now review the Gospel of John….
The gospel of John portrays the “Deity of Jesus Christ”. Chapter 1: 1-2; “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.” Genesis chapter 1:1 declares; “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Jn. 1:14 “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” John has 21 chapters or 7x3. Seven is God’s number of perfection and three the number of deity. Thus, in Christ we have the incarnation of God Himself.
We notice in this Gospel that it is more elevated in its tone, the viewpoint more exalted, its content more spiritual. In Matthew we see Him as the Son of David; Mark, as the perfect Workman, Luke as the Son of Man; but in this Gospel of John, we see His Divine Glories. In Matthew we see the address to the Jews: in Mark, an appeal to the Servants of God ; in Luke we see Christ as a man of men, in this Gospel we are privileged to see Jesus concerned with the Family of God. In the first three Gospels we are anchored to the earth, in John we are lifted above the earth, with the Deity of Christ.
This is the gospel of “grace”, the key word is “believe”, and it is directed primarily towards Christians, but certainly does not leave out the Jew for undoubtedly John himself was a Jew. He was one of the three in the inner circle (Mark 5; 37. “And He suffered no man to follow him, save Peter; and James, and John the brother of James.”) Of his authorship we are not left to question. We read that he leaned on Jesus’ bosom at the Last Supper (John 18:15) He followed the Master into the high priest’s palace (18:15) and to the place of crucifixion. Jesus committed His mother to John (19:26, 27). John ran to the tomb with Peter on the resurrection morning and in the evening saw the risen Lord (20:1-23). He repeatedly represents himself as an eyewitness. His experiences both after the destruction of Jeruselem by Titus in A.D. 70 and after his exile to Patmos, indicate that this forth Gospel, was written by John at Ephesus, about A.D. 85-90.
I have pointed out repeatedly in our “Studies” that “omissions” are as significant as commissions throughout the Holy Cannon. We see a perfect example presented before us here in the Gospel of John. The birth of John the Baptist, the birth of Jesus, His genealogy, youth, baptism, temptation, transfiguration, and ascension are all hidden. Why? Because in this Gospel we are introduced to His Deity, and all these other attributes are not within the excellencies of the Son of God, the Saviour of all mankind. We see in this Gospel the phrase “I Am”. In Exodus 3: 13 & 14; “And Moses said unto God at the burning bush, “when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them. The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me. What is his name? What shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, “I AM” hath sent me unto you”. Once again, pointing to His authority as a part of the Godhead and His Deity. In this Gospel we see such titles as The Word, the Only Begotten, the Lamb of God, the Son of God, the True Bread, the Light, the Shepherd, the Door, the Way, the Truth, the Life, the Resurrection, the Vine, all revealing His Lordship, as John presents Christ as the King of heaven and earth the true Messiah and Holy One of Christian-Judean religion.
John the Baptist proclaimed; “And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.” Jn.1: 34. Andrew excitedly runs to tell his brother Simon Peter, “We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ”. Jn. 1: 41
This fourth gospel brings our attention to His Divine relationship with God the Father. He is the true Light. “Then spake Jesus again unto them saying, I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” Jn. 8:12 Grace and truth came by Him, Jn.1;17. He is the only begotten of the Father, Jn.1:18. The Baptist teaches us: “And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God”. Jn. 1:36 Jesus declares His “Oneness” with God when He tells his disciples; “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.” Jn. 14:16 Then again, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” Jn. 14:26
In our first three gleanings, we have pointed out the wisdom of God in equipping each Evangelist’s, for their particular gospel. Surely John is no exception. He was probably nearer to the Saviour than any of the twelve, “the disciple whom Jesus loved”. How fitting that the one, who leaned on the Master’s bosom, should be the instrument to portray Christ as “the Only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father”. Again, in our first gleanings, we compared scripture with scripture, usually one of the Old Testament and one from Revelation. Here in John, we do not feel it necessary to seek out some Old Testament reference to Christ because the entire New Testament reveals Him. Remember as you study the Scriptures, that the New Testament is enfolded in the Old and the Old Testament is unfolded in the New. In the Old things are hidden, in the New things revealed. In the Old, signs and wonders, in the New, faith occupies our attention. .
We do wish to return to Revelation 4:7 and take a look at the fourth beast. “And the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.” This could not be more fitting. The first three beasts, the lion, the young ox and man, all belong to the earth and set forth Christ in an earthly relationship. This fourth lifts us up “above” the earth, and bring the heavens into view. The eagle is the bird that soars the highest and symbolizes the character in which Christ is seen in John’s gospel. These, so called beasts, are actually Cherubim, or special angelic creatures of God. Ezekiel 1:10, “As for the likeness of their faces, the four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side, and they four also had the face of an eagle”. Incidentally, we may observe how this description of the four cherubim in Rev. 4:7 authenticates the arrangement of the four Gospels as we have them in our bibles, evidencing the fact that their present order is of Divine arrangement as Rev.4:7 confirms.
Summarizing this brief lesson, let us point out how each of these four gospels close. Matthew records the Resurrection of Christ. Matt: 28:6 “He is not here; for He is risen” Note verse 18, “And Jesus came and spake unto them, (the disciples), saying, “All power is given unto me in heaven, and in earth.” You would expect nothing less of the Son of David, the Messiah and the King of the Jews. Mark 16:19, “So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, (the disciples), he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God”. We have before us the “Ascension” of Christ to receive the reward of His labor. Yes, the reward of the young ox, the Divine worker of God the Father. In Luke we witness the promises concerning the coming of the Holy Spirit. Lk. 24:49 “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem until ye be endued with power from on High.” The Holy Spirit was to reveal Jesus Christ to mankind. To open man’s discernment and understanding. Thus the Son of Man sends a Comforter for His people. John ends with a reference to the Second coming of our Lord. Jn.21:22 “If I will that he, (the apostle John), tarry till I come, what is that to thee?” Once again John brings before us the “Deity” of Jesus. Jn. 14: 1-7 “Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions; it if were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way you know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also; and from henceforth you know him, and have seen him”.
In what little time and space we have left, I would like to take up the number four, which has been before us often, in this study. Why four Gospels? We are not left to the uncertainties of speculation or imagination. Scripture is its own interpreter, numerals are used with definite precision and meaning. Four is the number of the earth and therefore the world number. There are four points to the earth’s compass; north, east, south and west. There are four seasons in our year: spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Four elements are connected with our world: earth, air, fire and water. There have been four and only four great world empires: the Babylonian, the Medo-Persian, the Grecian, and the Roman. Scripture divides the earth’s people into four classes, “kindred and tongue, and people and nation.” Rev. 5:9. In the Parable of the Sower; our Lord divided the field into four kinds of soil, and later He said, “the field is the world.” The fourth commandment has to do with rest, from all earth’s labors. The fourth clause in what is known as the Lords prayer is, “Thy will be done on earth.” And so we might go on. Four is thus the earth number. How fitting, then that the Holy Spirit should have given us four Gospels in which to set forth the earthly ministry of the Heavenly One. (We owe the above to A.W. Pink).
May God Bless this Study to the Glory of our Lord Jesus Christ! Amen!
The Lord saw fit to allow us to bring this message to the New Life Assembly of Aurora, Ohio, on Sunday August 30, 2009. Several comments from the congregation have led me to tie up the loose ends, to prepare an epilogue, so to speak, to highlight the lessons thereof.
First we wish to review the role of the office of Christ as presented in each of the various gospels. Matthew presents Christ as the Son of David, the Messiah, the King of the Jews and is obviously addressed primarily to the Jews. Mark brings before us Jesus as a servant / slave, the Mighty Worker of Jehovah, a Gospel of deeds. Thus Mark’s Gospel, is directed to the Romans and Gentiles who were in control of government and commerce in those days. Luke reveals Christ as “The Son of Man” and the Second Son of God, Adam being the first. Luke shows us the humanity and humanness of our Saviour as He walked this earth. John portrays the Deity of Jesus Christ, His Oneness with God. He was at the beginning with God and was God.
Secondly, we must acknowledge the uniqueness of each writer and behold the wisdom of God displayed in the selection of each for their assigned task. Matthew presents Christ in an official relationship, namely, as the Messiah and King of Israel. Matthew himself was a publican, a tax-gatherer and therefore hated by Jew and Roman alike. Thus could Matthew relate to Christ who was “hated without cause, despised and rejected by man”. Mark was not an apostle. Paul writes to Timothy and tells him to bring Mark, for he is profitable to me for the ministry. How wonderful it is to see that the one who wrote of our Lord as the Servant of God, was himself one who “ministered” to others. Luke brings Christ to us as the Son of Man, and was fascinated by the fact that Jesus was born unto a virgin, who knew not a man. Why this would be so, is because Luke was a physician. He was acquainted with the physical man, and therefore must be the one to present the humanity of Jesus Christ. John was the disciple “whom Jesus loved”, it was John who portrayed Christ as “the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father. This disciple had spiritual discernment and recognized the deity of Christ. Therefore he is the one appointed to write this fourth gospel.
Lastly we feel it incumbent, upon this brief outline of the four gospels, to also acknowledge the lesson taught us in their respective “endings”. Matthew closes with the resurrection of Christ. Mark shares with us His ascension up into heaven. Luke proclaims the promise of Jesus to send us the Holy Spirit. John gives us the reference to the Second coming of our Lord. I hope you see the progression before us. First Jesus is resurrected, He then ascends to be with the Father. He sends the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to draw us unto the Lord, to enlighten and enable us to grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Christ Jesus and the Holy Scriptures. He then returns to call us unto Himself, to dwell with Him in Heaven forever and ever. Amen and Amen!
It is my prayer that this “Searching the Scriptures” Study has been and will be a Blessing to you and your family, friends and fellow Christians. May Christ have the Glory!!!
Bob Moses: 816 Holly Oak Lane, Aurora, OH 44202
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John Robert (Bob) Moses
Author of these Studies; “Searching the Scriptures”
“Search ye the Scriptures...they are they which testify of Me. “John 5:39”.