On Sundays at St. Matthew’s United Methodist Church, we are going through a series entitled “Long Story Short” where we look at the Bible as Bookshelf. Each Monday through this series, I’ll layout for what you basic details about the shelf we looked at. And just a reminder you can listen to my podcast of this sermon here or stream it below:
This week we talked about The Gospels and Acts. The verse I used in my sermon yesterday was John 20: 30-31:
30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.
Of all the shelves of scripture that we have been talking about, the Gospels may be the easiest for us to understand. The Gospels are the narrative history of Jesus, and Acts is the narrative history of the early church. The Gospels are here to tell us about Jesus, what He did, said, and how he lived. Each Gospel has its own individual perspective, but they all have the same goal – that we may know that Jesus is the Messiah and find life in His name.
Now, the Gospels are not more inspired than the rest of the Bible. Every book of the Bible is equally inspired. So, why the Gospels are not “better” than the rest of the Bible, they do give us special insight into the heart of God. Colossians 1 tells Jesus is the invisible image of the inviable God. To know the heart of the Father, we have to know the Son. How do we do that? We look at the Gospels.
The Gospels are:
- Matthew: Matthew is the “Jewish” Gospel. Matthew is a Jewish tax collector, called by Jesus. Because he was Jewish, he emphasized the Jewishness of Jesus. We see in Matthew many references to the Old Testament prophets. Matthew’s Gospel really emphasized the Jewish nature of who Jesus was. For example, in Matthew’s Gospel, we see Jesus give the Sermon on the Mount. In this passage, we see Jesus go up on a mountain and give a new law for the people to follow. For a Jewish believer, they would have thought, oh, Jesus gives us a law just as Moses did. They would have seen Jesus in light of Moses.
- Mark: Mark is the “Roman” Gospel and is the shortest of all the Gospels, and is my favorite. It is the one that we are consistently reading in our regular Rooted in Christ. In Mark, we see Jesus as a man of action, a decisive leader. Mark is writing to a Roman audience and they would see in Jesus the perfect leader; even better than Ceaser or their military leaders. Jesus is powerful, has authority, they would see Him as the perfect leader that their leaders are not.
- Luke: Luke the “Gentile” Gospel and is the first of a two part volume. Luke tells the story of Jesus, Acts tells the story of the early church. Luke, being a gentile, emphasized the “least, the last, and the lost.” It is in Luke where we see the prodigal son. Luke gives us the lost sheep, the lost coin. Luke is always expanding the folks who are welcomed into God’s love. In Luke’s Gospel, instead of the Sermon on the Mount, we see the Sermon on the Plain. It is the same content as the Sermon on the Mount, but instead of being on the mountain, it is on a plain. Luke’s audience would have been Gentile, they would not have cared about the Old Testament. Instead, we see Jesus teaching the same way that the philosophers would have. Jesus is the perfect philosopher and came so all the world may know. In Acts, we see the same history telling of the early church. In Acts, we learn about the coming of the Holy Spirit, Peter, Paul’s conversion and the growth of the early church.
- John: Matthew, Mark, and Luke are answering the “who, what, when, where” questions. John is answering the “why” questions. He is not worried about chronological order, he is trying to tell us about Jesus so that we may believe. He is speaking to us in symbolic, mystical language. He uses language of light and dark, showing us the power of light to save and the effect of darkness and evil. We see the history of Jesus here, but we also see the spiritual reality of everything that is happening.
The Gospels show us who Jesus is. It is important that we know about Jesus. But it is more important that we know Jesus. That’s what they are here for. They are here that we may know that Jesus is the Messiah, and through believing in Him, we may have eternal life.
That’s what the Gospels are for.
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