Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—known as the Gospel accounts—contain some of the most familiar stories in the Bible. The Gospel narratives are carefully designed theological biographies of Jesus that focus on his announcement of the Gospel, that is, the “good news” of his royal arrival. They are based on the eyewitness testimonies of the apostles. However, they are not merely historical records. These accounts are designed to advance a claim that will challenge the reader’s thinking and behavior.
The Gospel narratives have two main goals:
- To faithfully represent the story of Jesus—that the crucified and risen Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah of Israel and the true King of the world.
- To persuade the reader to acknowledge Jesus as Lord and become his disciple.
The four authors frame Jesus’ story in a unique way for distinct purposes. Each author has carefully edited, arranged, and designed the core stories about Jesus to emphasize unique facets of Jesus’ character. So what do each of the accounts emphasize?
Matthew portrays Jesus as a greater-than-Moses figure who fulfills the promises of the ancient Scriptures and whose resurrection has enthroned him as the King of Heaven and Earth.
Mark emphasizes the mystery and misunderstanding caused by Jesus’ announcement of the Kingdom of God. He shows Jesus as the unexpected Messiah and highlights the paradox of how the exalted Messiah can only be recognized in the humbled, crucified Jesus.
Luke highlights how Jesus brings the Gospel to the nations. He shows that Jesus is empowered by the Holy Spirit to fulfill the Old Testament promise that God’s salvation would reach beyond Israel to include all nations.
John introduces Jesus as Israel’s God become human, presenting signs that demonstrate the truth of his messianic claim and his offer of eternal life for any that will trust in him.
The Gospel authors deeply believed that Jesus rose after death and fulfilled the ancient story told in the Hebrew Scriptures. And they proclaimed that joining in this belief and following his teachings would change our lives forever! The Gospel accounts are persuasive texts that invite the reader to consider their own relationship to Jesus the Messiah.
The Gospel narratives offer the earliest accounts of Jesus’ life and teachings, but how often do we really take in their literary artistry from beginning to end? How can we reconcile the fact that there are four accounts with differing stories? Today’s video is all about learning to understand and respond to these unique books!
The Gospel (General Introduction from Bible Project)
If you are interested in a more detailed introduction
Four Portraits, One Jesus Video Lectures, Chapter 1 – What Are the Gospels? (More detailed introduction from Dr. Mark Strauss, Zondervan Publications)