Why Are There Four Different Gospels CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
Why are there Four Different Gospels
In this study we are going to look at how the four different Gospels present the Lord Jesus Christ differently. Each gospel gives a different presentation of the Lord Jesus Christ. As we will see in this study Matthew will present the Lord Jesus Christ as King, Mark will present him as a Servant, Luke will present him as the Son of Man and John will present him as the Son of God.
Many times people will ask why there are four gospels and why is each one different from the other. Many times we will find one event recorded in a particular gospel and not recorded at all in the other gospels. Sometimes we find the same event recorded in two gospels or maybe even in all four but each one tells it differently or gives different details about the particular event. The most common answer for these differences is because there are four different authors. They will say that if four different people witness the same event they will all tell the story a little bit differently. While this is true amongst mankind it does not work for explaining the differences in the Gospels. Remember that all scripture is given by inspiration of God (2 Timothy 3:16), therefore it is the Holy Spirit who inspired the authors of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. If there are differences in the gospels then they are there because the Holy Spirit inspired them and they are not at all contradictory but complementary when studied out, and as we will see in this study they will show a fourfold presentation of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Before we look at the book of Matthew and how it presents the Lord Jesus Christ as King let us look at some evidence in the scriptures for this fourfold presentation of the Jesus Christ. In the Old Testament there are several prophesies concerning the branch. Each of these prophesies is connected with Jesus Christ or God himself and each one point to the fourfold presentation of Jesus Christ.
1) Jeremiah 23:5
- Here we see the Branch connected with a King, this is how Matthew presents Jesus.
2) Zechariah 3:8
- Here we see the Branch connected with a Servant, this is how Mark presents Jesus.
3) Zechariah 6:12
- Here we see the Branch connected with a Man, this is how Luke presents Jesus.
4) Isaiah 4:2
- Here we see the Branch connected with the Lord, this is how John presents Jesus.
In dealing with the Branch we see a King which matches Jesus in Matthew, a Servant which matches Jesus in Mark, a Man which matches Jesus in Luke, and The Lord which matches Jesus in John.
In Exodus 26:31,32 we see that in the Old Testament Tabernacle there was a veil that separated the Holy place from the most Holy Place. Note that this veil has 4 colors in it (Purple, Scarlet, Blue, fine linen which is white) and that it hangs on four pillars. One might ask how this points to the fourfold presentation of Jesus Christ. In Hebrews 10:19, 20 we see that the flesh of Jesus Christ is referred to as a veil. The veil in the Old Testament Tabernacle was a type of the Flesh of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is why when he was crucified and raised again the veil in the temple was rent in twain (Matthew 27:51). This shows that there is no need for a priesthood now because through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ we have direct access to God. So the veil had four colors and four pillars which match the 4 different presentations of Jesus in the gospels when he came in the flesh.
The Book of Matthew :
Matthew presents the Lord Jesus Christ as King. This is why Matthew is considered to be primarily a Jewish book. It is presenting the Jesus Christ as the king of the Jews. This is why it is also placed first in the New Testament because when the Jews eventually accept the New Testament the first book they will read is Matthew which shows them that Jesus Christ is really there king. Now we will list some of the ways that you can see how Jesus is presented as King in the book of Matthew. We have chosen many examples but there are obviously many more besides the ones in the list here.
1) The author of the book is Matthew and he was the only one of the disciples as far as we know that held an official office. Remember that he was a tax collector (Matthew 9:9). Who better to right about the king than a man that had been a public official?
2) Note the genealogy in Matthew chapter one. It traces Jesus back to David and was the King of Israel. The genealogy only goes back as far as Abraham who is the father of the Nation of Israel, remember that this is a book dealing primarily with Jews about as Jewish Kingdom. Now it is important to note here that the book of Mark has no genealogy because no one would be concerned with the genealogy of a servant. The genealogy in Luke traces Jesus back to Adam because Luke represents Jesus as man. Then in John we see no genealogy because God has no beginning or ending and John represents Jesus as Son of God.
3) In Matthew 2:1-12 we see the visit of the wise men after the birth of Jesus Christ. Matthew is the only gospel to record this and note what the wise men say in verse 2 “Where is he that is born King of the Jews”. The wise men come looking for a king and it is only recorded in Matthew, this is not Matthew’s memory being better that Mark’s or Luke’s or John’s this is the guidance of the Holy Spirit of God inspiring his book the way he wants it.
4) In Matthew chapters 5-7 we see the Sermon on the Mount. You will find some of it in the other gospels but not three chapters worth. This is because the Sermon on the Mount deals with the kingdom of Heaven which is when Jesus Christ will reign on the earth on the throne of David. If Israel had not of rejected Jesus Christ as their king this could have happened shortly after his death, burial, and resurrection. The Sermon on the Mount deals with the constitution of this kingdom that is why you cannot put it doctrinally on the church in the church age. Since it deals with the kingdom then it is perfectly placed in the book of Matthew which presents Jesus as king.
5) Jesus used the phrase “I say unto you” 14 times in the book of Matthew which denotes authority, just as a king would have.
6) You were to bow before a king and Jesus received worship more in this gospel (Matthew 2:2,8,11 ; 8:2 ; 9:18 ; 14:33 ; 15:25 ; 20:20 ; 28;9, 17)
7) We have said that this is a Jewish book note that Jesus said in Matthew 15:24 “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of Israel”. Matthew is the only gospel to record this.
8) When you compare Matthew 15:21-28 with Mark 7:24-30 you see the same event but with some difference. Note that the woman referring to Jesus Christ as the son of David is in Matthew but not in Luke. This makes since because Matthew presents him as king.
The Book of Mark :
One of the first things we see in regards to Mark presenting Jesus Christ as a servant is the fact that Mark is said to be profitable to Paul in the ministry (2 Timothy 4:11). Therefore he could be said to have been a servant. The goal of anyone serving is to be profitable in doing whatever they do. Being profitable doesn’t just mean making money it is referring to being of value to someone. Therefore we see the author of the Book that presents Jesus as a servant being just that.
One of the key verses in Mark that shows us Jesus Christ as a servant is Mark 10:45, which reads, “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” The context here shows us that mankind has this backwards we think the leaders or the ones in charge are the great ones, but Jesus said that whoever is the servant is the real great one. This is something that all saved born again people should take note of especially in regards to serving God.
Below we will list some of the things that we see in the gospel of Mark that show us Jesus Christ as a servant. This is not a complete list but will show that there is plenty of evidence for this presentation of Jesus Christ as a servant.
1) Note that there is no genealogy or record of the birth in the gospel of Mark.
- One reason for the omission of these things is the fact that Mark represents Jesus as a servant and no one would really be concerned with where and how a servant was born or where he was from.
2) The gospel of Mark begins with the Public Ministry of Jesus Christ.
- Mark gives no details concerning the early life of the Lord Jesus Christ as the books of Matthew and Luke do, but remember that Mark is presenting Jesus Christ as a servant.
3) Note how many chapters in Mark start with “And”.
- Chapters number 2,3,4,5,6,9,10,11,12,13,15, and 16 all start with the word “And”.
- This is a unique thing found only in Mark note that 12 out of 16 chapters being with “And”. This shows us something continual and if you look at the chapters what you will see is the continual service of the Lord Jesus Christ.
- This exactly how our service should be towards the Lord Jesus Christ.
4) We see the ministry of the hand.
- Many miracles on the book of Mark are done with Jesus hand. Either with him taking someone by the hand or touching someone. (Mark 1:31,41 ; 5:41 ; 7:32 ; 8:22 ; 9:27)
- Once again a person serves with their hands so Jesus is seen using his hands many times in this gospel compared to the other gospels.
- As a matter of fact we also see more miracles done it the book of Mark.
5) The parables given are those connected with serving.
- There are very few parables given in Mark and they are usally connected with service.
The parable of the sower (Mark4:3-20), The parable of the seed (Mark 4:26-29), The parable of the wicked husbandman (Mark 12:1-9)
6) Omission of title. (Compare Matthew 21:9 with Mark 11:9).
- In Matthew account of the triumphant entry of Jesus Christ the people cried “Hosanna to the son of David” but in the gospel of Mark it is recorded that they simply cried, “Hosanna”.
- This is not a contradiction but in Matthew Jesus is presented as King so they connect him with David. In Mark Jesus is presented as a servant there the title son of David is dropped.
7) Note that Master is used in place of Lord.
- When Matthew 8:25 is compared to Mark 4:38 and when Matthew 17:4 is compared with Mark 9:5 we see that in Matthew Jesus is called Lord and in Mark he is called servant.
- Once again these are not contradictions but changes made by the Holy Spirit to present Jesus in a different light.
The Book of Luke:
In the Gospel of Luke we will see Jesus presented as the Son of Man. What we mean here is that in Luke’s Gospel you will see the human side of Jesus Christ more than in the other gospels.
We know that Luke was a physician therefore who better to write about the man side of Jesus Christ that someone who understood the physical side of man. Therefore once again even the author who is chosen for writing this gospel is in line with the way this gospel is presenting the Lord Jesus Christ. Also something that is unique to the gospel of Luke is the fact that it is written to a person. In Luke 1:3 we see it is addressed to Theophilus, Luke is the only one of the gospels like this, but since it represents Jesus Christ as a man then it makes since that it would be addressed to a man.
Also the placement of this gospel in scripture is important in presenting Jesus Christ as the son of Man. We failed to mention this in the previous lessons but each gospel placement is important. In the word of God numbers have meanings as we have seen in previous studies. Now the book of Matthew is the 40th book overall in the word of God, and 4 + 0 = 4. The number 4 is usually connected with the earth in the word of God and Matthew is the gospel which presents the Lord Jesus Christ as King, and he will one day rule the world from the throne of his father David (Luke 1:32-33). The Gospel of Mark is the 41st book in the word of God and 4 + 1 = 5. Five in the word of God represents death and the gospel of Mark presents Jesus Christ as the servant who came to give his life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). Luke is the 42nd book in the word of God and 4 + 2 = 6. Six in the word of God is connected with man or is man’s number and the gospel of Luke is the gospel that presents Jesus as son of Man. John is the 43rd book in the word of God and 4 + 3 = 7. Seven is the number of completion or perfection in the word of God and is connected with God, and John is the gospel which presents the Lord Jesus as the Son of God. So even the placement of the books in the word of is important and not random, they also show us the fourfold presentation of the Lord Jesus Christ that is seen in the gospels.
Some things in Luke that show the Lord Jesus as the son of Man :
1) There are more details about his birth and life as a child.
- In Luke 2:1-20 we see the details given concerning the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. No other gospel gives us these. Matthew does give us the visit of the wise men but this could have been upwards of two years after the birth and remember they are looking for a king.
- In Luke 2:21-24 we see Jesus being circumcised according to the Law.
- In Luke 2:41-52 we see the visit of Jesus to the temple when he was twelve years old. This is only found in the gospel of Luke.
- In Luke 2:51 we see he was subject unto his parents.
2) We see his age at the start of his ministry Luke 3:23.
- His age was 30 which matches the age for a priest to begin serving in the Old Testament Tabernacle (Numbers 4:3). This makes since because the Lord Jesus Christ is now our High Priest (Hebrews 3:1).
3) We see a genealogy all the way back to Adam.
- In Luke 3:23-38 we see the genealogy of Mary and it goes all the way back to Adam. The genealogy in Matthew is Joseph’s. Note that it only goes back to Abraham, remember Matthew is dealing with the king of the Jews and the Jews started with Abraham. Luke is presenting Jesus as the son of Man therefore the genealogy goes all the way back to Adam.
4) Notice the difference in the order of the Temptations.
- In Matthew 4 we see Jesus being tempted and the last temptation deals with Satan offering him all the kingdoms of the world. In Luke 4 we see Jesus being tempted and the last temptation is Satan tempting Jesus to throw himself of the top of the temple.
- Once again remember that Matthew is presenting the King and the kingdom is the last temptation and Luke is presenting the Man and his life is the last temptation.
5) Luke is the only gospel to record the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37).
- This parable is famous for showing us how to deal with our fellow man and it is only recorded in Luke.
6) Shows man what happens after death (Luke 16:19-31).
- Luke is the only gospel to record Jesus speaking about a specific man that went to paradise and a specific man who went to Hell.
- Man today has one of two choices for eternity; it is either Heaven or Hell. And the way to heaven is through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ alone (John 14:6)
7) Luke shows Jesus praying over and over again.
- Prayer is one of man’s greatest needs and Jesus does it many times in Luke. (3:21 ; 5:16 ; 6:12 ; 9:28,29 ; 11:1 ; 22:31,32 ; 22:41,44 ; 23:24)
8) Luke shows Jesus eating many times.
- One of man’s main concerns is what am I going to eat, and we see Jesus eating many times in Luke. (7:36 ; 11:37 ; 14:1 ; 19:7 ; 24:41,44 ; 23:24)
9) Jesus is shown to be a friend of the common man in Luke.
- In Luke we see Jesus eating, visiting with, and receiving publicans and sinners. (5:29 ; 7:33, 34 ; 15:1 ; 19:7)
The Book of John:
The gospel of John will present the Lord Jesus Christ as the son of God, and therefore it will be a lot different from the other three gospels.
One of the first things we see is the fact that John was the closest of the disciples to the Lord Jesus Christ. John referred to himself as the disciple whom Jesus Loved many times in scripture and it was John who was at the cross and was chosen to take care of Mary by Jesus himself (John 19:26-27). Therefore it is fitting that John was the one who would present the Lord Jesus Christ as the son of God.
We also see that at the end of the gospel of John we are given a specific reason for why the book was written (John 20:30-31).
Verse 31 “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ , the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”
John is the only gospel to have something like this in it but even in the reason it was written we see the fact that it was written to show that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that salvation is only going to be found in him.
Since that gospel of John presents the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God we would think that in the gospel John there would be many statements where Jesus is showing his deity, and in the gospel of John there are many. (John 1:1-3 ; 1:14 ; 1:34 ; 3:16 ; 5:21-23 ; 6:35 ; 8:58 ; 10:30 ; 14:9 ; 17:5)
As we have stated before sometimes what is not in a particular gospel is important also in showing us the correct presentation of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the gospel of John there is no genealogy because God has no beginning. John 1:1 simply says that in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The word is obviously Jesus and therefore if God has always been then so has he. There is also no reference to the birth because God has always been. There is no account of the temptations as we see in Matthew and Luke, but remember God cannot be tempted with evil (James 1:13). Now we know that Jesus as a man was tempted but it is interesting that the book that shows him as the son of God leaves that out, just more overwhelming proof that the Holy Spirit was behind the inspiration of the word of God! The mount of transfiguration is also omitted from John but remember the book itself is presenting him as the son of God.
One of the most unique things we see about the gospel of John presenting the Lord Jesus Christ as the son of God is the “I am” titles that are found in John’s gospel. In John 8:58 Jesus declares himself as “I am”. This was God’s title from Exodus 3:13-14. But in the book of John we see 7 other times where Jesus said I am _________ and then filled in the blank. We will them below and remember that 7 is God’s number for completion or perfection.
1) John 6:35 (I am the bread of Life)
2) John 9:5 (I am the Light of the world)
3) John 10:9 (I am the Door)
4) John 10:11 (I am the Good Shepherd)
5) John 11:25 (I am the Resurrection and the Life)
6) John 14:6 (I am the Way , the Truth, and the Life)
7) John 15:9 (I am the True Vine)
From this study we see that God does nothing without significance. Everything he does has a purpose and every word in the book is for a purpose. All of God’s word has something for us if we would simply be diligent and get with him to find out what it is.