The Gospels are the first four books of the New Testament, and they tell the same story from four perspectives. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all tell the greatest redemption story in history: the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Over the next four weeks, we will look at each of the four Gospel accounts and see how each one gives a unique and purposeful perspective of Jesus.
From the beginning, the Gospel story ushers in the long-awaited Kingdom of God, ruled by the Messiah King, Jesus. All four Gospels intertwine to tell this beautiful, multidimensional story.
Jesus’ was born in Bethlehem, a small town in the region of Judah and the birthplace of King David. His mother was Mary, who miraculously conceived Jesus, though she was still a virgin, after a visit from an Angel of the Lord. Jesus’ family eventually settled in Nazareth, in the region of Galilee, where much of Jesus’ ministry took place.
Jesus was around 30 years old when He was baptized by John the Baptist, His cousin who prepared the way for the Lord (Isaiah 40:3-5, Luke 3:4-6).
Upon His baptism, Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit, and after being tempted by Satan in the wilderness, He began His ministry.
Jesus called 12 men to be His disciples or followers. Jesus taught His disciples, individuals and large multitudes of people that He was the Son of God, who had come to take away the sins of the world. He called people to deny themselves and follow Him. He promised everlasting, abundant life for the faithful, and He showed people what it looked like to live in the Kingdom of God while still in the current, broken world.
Jesus illustrated many of His teachings through parables. These were metaphorical stories, usually about familiar aspects of first-century life, that taught truths about how to live in a relationship with God and others.
Jesus also performed many miracles during His time on earth. He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, fed thousands with a child’s lunch, brought forth money from a fish’s mouth, calmed storms, walked on waves and even brought the dead back to life.
Many followed Jesus while He was alive, but many others opposed Him. The Jewish religious leaders of the time—the Pharisees, scribes and Sadducees—believed Jesus was a liar or even an instrument of Satan.
The religious leaders were blinded by their pride and corruption and refused to believe that Jesus was the Messiah. They were so fixated on their own self-righteousness and the letter of the law, they sought to kill the man who claimed to be the Son of God.
But this was not a surprise to Jesus. He knew His fate—He predicted it at least three times. Jesus came to earth because He knew He had to die to rescue His people from their sins and make a way for people to have eternal life with God.
So after about three years of ministry, Jesus made His way to Jerusalem, the political and religious capital of Israel.
Though Jesus entered the city as a humble King (Matthew 21:1-11), He eventually was betrayed by one of His followers, Judas Iscariot, and arrested.
After He was arrested, He was tried and condemned to death. He was beaten, mocked and led to Golgotha, meaning the place of the skull, where He was crucified for crimes He did not commit.
As He hung on the cross and breathed His last, Jesus said, “It is finished.”
His sacrifice was the payment for the sins of the world, and He paid it in full. God Himself, clothed in flesh, died to reconcile all people to Himself. He did what no other person could do.
Praise God the story doesn’t end there.
After Jesus died, He was buried in a borrowed tomb. For three days, all hope seemed lost.
But on the third day, He rose from the dead.
Jesus’ resurrection marked the defeat of death itself and secured eternal life for all who believe He is the Messiah, the Son of the living God, who takes away the sins of the world.
The Kingdom of God: Throughout all of the Gospels, Jesus’ primary mission is to inaugurate the Kingdom of God. From the very beginning of His ministry, Jesus preaches, “’Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’” (Matthew 4:17). Many of Jesus’ teachings, miracles and parables center on the Kingdom of God. And in His life, death and resurrection, Jesus brings the Kingdom of God to earth and makes a way for people to be a part of it.
Forgiveness of sins: From the moment Adam and Eve first sinned in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3), all of humanity has been separated from God by sin. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus reassures that He is the one who has the power to defeat sin, and He does for all humanity, for all time on the cross.
Relationship with God and eternal life: The Gospel story is much more than a quick-fix for the sin condition. Jesus’ ministry shows us that by believing in Him and surrendering our lives to Him, we can experience an intimate relationship with the God of the Universe, who saves, heals, restores, loves more than any other could and calls us His friends and His children.
John 1, 19-20
HOW DOES THIS FIT INTO GOD’S STORY?
The Gospels are the crux of the entire Bible. Every book before and after points to these four accounts of the God of the universe coming to earth to teach people how to live in a relationship with God and then saving the world by dying on a cross and raising to life on the third day, conquering death itself and securing eternal life for all who repent of their sins and believe in Him.
The Gospels directly or indirectly quote from the Old Testament, showing readers that Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s plan to rescue the world. Each Gospel account sheds its own, unique light on the person and purpose of Jesus, but all roads lead to Calvary.
But the Gospels are so much more than a biography of a man from a small town in Israel who did miraculous things. This story is an invitation to believe. It is an invitation to be transformed. It is an invitation to abundant, eternal life with the God who saves.