Friday, September 7, 2012

The Gospels, Rightly Dividing the Word, and the Truth

I have read the Gospels -- Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John -- with great joy.

To see Jesus at work, healing and going about doing good, signalling to the Jewish people and to the world that the fullness of time had come, that God would reconciled sinful man and bring him from death in his trespasses to life and sonship through the death and Resurrection of His Son.

I have often been amazed, however, that the Gospel of John commands the greatest degree of power, at least to me.

Evangelists pass out copies of John's Gospel, as well, so chocked full of God's emblazoned love of His creatures.

 John's Gospel strongly emphasizes Jesus' divinity, while the other three Gospels seem to allude to it or ignore it altogether.

This opinion travels frequently among skeptics and atheist critiques of the Gospels.

A number of passages in the first three Gospels refute this false line of reasoning:

"The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool?" (Matthew 22: 44)

Jesus quoted Psalm 110, establishing that He is greater than David, whereas the Israelites of the time believed that the Messiah was lesser. For Jesus to be placed at the right hand of God is the highest honor, establishing His equality with God the Father.

Matthew's Gospel confirms Jesus' affirmation of His divinity during His interrogation before Pontius Pilate:

"Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven." (Matthew 26: 64)

In Mark's Gospel, the writer also references Jesus' quoting Psalm 110 (Mark 12: 36) He goes even further and straightaway (a word frequently used in Mark's Gospel!):

"So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God." (Mark 16: 19)

In Luke's Gospel, the Transfiguration scene in Luke 9: 28-36 demonstrates that Jesus the Beloved Son is greater than the Law and the Prophets, too.

Luke's Gospel also reveals a unique account which highlights the primacy of Jesus the Messiah in Scripture:

"Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:

"Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?

"And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself." (Luke 24: 25-27).

Yet John's Gospel, from the outset, displays Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, as God, from the very Beginning.

I am moved to believe that John wrote his Gospel in part because he did not want anyone to think for one minute that Jesus was not God.

The Holy Spirit also prompted him to declare that Jesus came to  make us more than just disciples, but that through Him we could become "sons of God' (John 1: 12)

Reading the other three Gospels, the events are clear, the evidence unassailable that Jesus is the Messiah who was sent by God to take away the sins of the world.

Yet I also believe that the Gospels not only minister to different aspects of our Lord and His ministry, corresponding to the four Holy creatures that the prophet Ezekiel witnessed (see Ezekiel 1: 9-10).

When I read John's Gospel, as opposed to the other three, John's Gospel feels like a culmination, like the final destination, revealing the most, the truest and the most lasting impression which every believer must have of Christ Jesus.

We  must see Jesus as our King -- Matthew's Gospel, represented by the Lion

We must see Jesus as our servant -- Mark's Gospel, the Ox.

We must see Jesus as fully man -- Luke's Gospel, in which the Holy Spirit took advantage of the writer's medical knowledge.

Most of all, we must see Jesus as God, fully God, equal with the Father, yet learning as the Son of Man obedience through His suffering on earth, that in the form of sinful man he died on the Cross to be the first born from the dead for all who believe on Him.

In  no way do I argue that any one Gospel is "less inspired" than any other. Yet in rightly dividing the Word (2 Timothy 2: 15), the words of Jesus in the three Synoptic Gospel reflect the ultimate standard of the law, so true, so absolute, so unassailable, that either a man would have to be foolishly, slow of heart to believe, or completely unmoved by the power of God's grace and still trying to live the life which Jesus gives us through His Death and Resurrection on the Cross.

In  John's Gospel, whose name means "God is Grace", we read of the disciple whom "Jesus loved" -- the disciple who had the deepest intimacy with Jesus, which is based on the fullest revelation that God made flesh would die for me, not just for everyone, but for me!

This love is so fully manifested to us in John's Gospel, and this love must be received more and more that we may witness Him and all that He has done.

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