Week 11 of our 90-Day Journey, and finally starting into the New Testament!
Breadcrumbs For The Journey If God was to enter into our world so that people could interact with Him, you would expect His presence to make a pretty big splash in our world. Wouldn’t you? Well, Jesus claimed to be not only the Messiah predicted by the Old Testament prophets, but He also claimed to be the very Son of God. And He gave proof for these claims through His miracles and especially His resurrection from the dead. The problem for the disciples and other Jesus followers became trying to defend their faith in Jesus to others who were not eyewitnesses of His life. And that is the reason for virtually all of the New Testament books – an apologetic or defense for why we should believe that Jesus is God, that He is the Savior of all people, how that impacts each of us, and how we should live in light of that. The Gospels (first four books of the New Testament) are simply biographies of Jesus’ life by four separate individuals who compiled His life as accurately as they could. Even though there is remarkable unity of the four Gospel messages, as with all biographies, you sometimes get slight differences in their descriptions when told by different people – that should be expected. The word “gospel” means good news, so these four books intend to express why the coming of Jesus to earth was such good news for everyone. Just as the angel announced to the shepherds: “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11) Enjoy reading the message of the Gospels, and realize that this good news is for you! Tip Of The Week
It is helpful to know the background of each Gospel as we read:
Matthew (or Levi) – He was a Jewish tax collector who wrote about Jesus being the Messiah who fulfilled the messianic prophecies of the Old Testament (notice more Old Testament quotes in Matthew). He was writing primarily to Jews. Mark (or John Mark, cousin of Barnabas) – Being a missionary companion to Paul and a later companion to Peter, Mark wrote primarily to a Roman audience. So, he has fewer Old Testament quotes and explains more Jewish words and traditions than the other gospels. He presents Christ as the Suffering Servant, yet as a powerful Savior. Luke (a physician and part-time missionary companion of Paul) – Luke wrote two volumes of history in the Books of Luke and Acts, and he was a Gentile writing to someone named “Theophilus” (who could be a donor for Luke’s research – Theophilus means lover of wisdom). Yet Luke seems to write to a larger audience, primarily to Greeks who had formed the Gentile churches in the first century. He refers to Jesus mostly as the “Son of Man.” John (brother of James and son of Zebedee; referred to as “the disciple whom Jesus loved”) – John was Jewish and most likely writing to an audience of believers and nonbelievers in the area where he was ministering – most likely the region of Ephesus. He wrote to assure believers of the truth of the gospel and to call unbelievers to faith in Jesus as the Son of God (20:30-31).
Comparison of the Four Gospels (source)
Good To Know
The four Gospels in the New Testament are called the Canonical Gospels because they are included in the canon of Scripture (there were other accounts of Jesus’ life that were not included in the New Testament because they lacked authenticity – like the Gospel of Thomas). Matthew, Mark and Luke are called the Synoptic Gospels (synoptic means “viewed together”) because these three books share similar structure and share similar stories; but John’s Gospel is more theological and emphasizes the identity of Jesus and the spiritual significance of His life. Activity For the Week
Have fun with this word search from the gospels! (Let me know if you want the answer key and I'll send it to you!)
Pressing on with you!