Harmony Of The Gospels
As the Holy-Spirit-inspired historical accounts of four men about the life and death of God’s son, Jesus, the Gospels highlight the tension of varied perspectives.
While each Gospel can stand on its own as a reliable account, the authors—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—wrote with different purposes and to different audiences. Each writer had to make decisions about which pieces of the story to include. In Matthew’s Gospel, he is primarily concerned with convincing a predominantly Jewish audience that Jesus was God’s chosen Messiah and a continuation of God’s mission to restore Israel. Mark’s Gospel proceeds at breakneck speed, and he focuses more on the acts of Jesus that display his authority and power than on his teaching. Luke is, in his Gospel account, mostly concerned with strengthening and encouraging the fledgling Christian movement in the face of opposition. In John’s Gospel, Jesus, the Word through whom all things were created, has now returned to do the work of the one who sent him.
Though each of the Gospels is unique in perspective, Matthew, Mark, and Luke are more alike in their uniqueness. They include so many of the same stories, in such similar sequences, with such similar wording that they are frequently referred to as the “Synoptic Gospels” as they provide a general summary of Jesus’ time on earth. There are fewer than 30 unique verses in Mark—over 95 percent of Mark’s content appears in either Matthew or Luke or both. It is generally accepted that Matthew and Luke each made use of Mark as a resource as they wrote their Gospels, and the interplay of sameness and uniqueness can be seen in the accounts of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13, and Luke 4:1-13). For Mark this event was an important moment to make note of, but for Matthew and Luke it was worthy of a deeper retelling.
In contrast to the synoptics, John contains fewer parables, more long discourses, and a different sequence of events. There is a less-than-ten-percent overlap between John and the other Gospels. John has a more reflective tone than the other Gospels because rather than focusing on events as the other Gospel writers did, John is more deeply concerned with communicating the meaning behind what Jesus said and did.
Ultimately, all four of these Gospels lead to the same conclusion about the same man: Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the only means for salvation. However, seeing Jesus through these four perspectives provides us a multifaceted view of Jesus that reveals more than any of the accounts can on their own.
We are spending this year reading through all of the Gospels as we seek to know and understand Jesus deeper. It's never too late to jump in and read along with us! If you would like to share your experience reading the Gospel Reading Plan, email our Content Coordinator, Katie Schmidt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chad Buel is the Student Minister at the Lake Mary Campus. If you have any questions for him about student ministries, the Bible, or The West Wing (he's a big fan), he'd love to hear from you at email@example.com.