By Pastor David Goode
The word "gospel" comes from two Anglo-Saxon words: "God (meaning "good"), and "spell" (meaning "tidings.") This is translated as "Good-Tidings" or "Good News."
The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke are known as the "synoptic gospels" because they present a synopsis of Christ's life. The word "synopsis" is from a Greek word meaning "a collective view."
The synoptic gospels share a collective (common) view and are striking in their similarities, but uniquely different in the way they narrate the life and ministry of Christ in Galilee.
John's gospel is not included in the synoptic gospels, but stands in a class by itself, telling of Christ's life and ministry in Judea. In the time of Christ, Judea denoted the southernmost part of the three divisions of Palestine. The other two divisions were Galilee and Samaria.
The synoptic gospels tell of Christ's miracles, parables, and sermons to the multitudes. They portray Christ in action. John presents the deeper and more abstract discourses of Christ, and His conversations, prayers, meditation, and communion.
In Isaiah 7:14b, the prophet Isaiah looked down the corridors of time and predicted the coming of Christ. He wrote, "Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son and shall call his name Emmanuel" (God with us).
Every Old Testament prophet assured God's chosen people that the Messiah would come and be the King of the Jews.
In the New Testament, the Gospels present Jesus in our midst. In John 1:14, John says, "The Word [meaning Jesus] was made flesh and dwelt among us. God's desire to reveal His nature of love to mankind was demonstrated when He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, wrapped in human flesh to live with us."
Jesus is called "the word" because "words" reveal. God revealed who He is by sending His Son, "the living word" to planet Earth. God also reveals who He is in His "written word," and through His "prophetic word."
When the Old Testament concluded, there was a period of 400 years when God did not speak to mankind. But Matthew bridged the chasm of silence with the inspired writing of the book of Matthew.
God highlighted the Gospels in the Old Testament by speaking through Prophets. After the gospels had been written, God referred back to them again by inspiring the writers of the 21 Epistles.
The Epistles are books (letters) of the New Testament written by Peter, Paul, John and Jude to the Romans, the Corinthians, the Galatians and others. The gospels are the primary source of God's revelation to mankind. The inspired writers of the Bible shine God's divine spotlight upon them.
Why did four individual Gospel writers tell the same basic story of the life and ministry of Christ?
Wouldn't one account of the Gospel story be sufficient?
Each Gospel writer addresses a different group of people, and each one portrays Christ in a unique way to the people he writes to. On another level, the "good news" is for us today.
Matthew, a Jew, writes the story of the life and ministry of Jesus on Earth to his own people, the Jews. The Jews were well versed in Old Testament prophecy and ancestry. He includes the genealogy of Jesus to show that Jesus is the predicted Messiah. Matthew is qualified to reach his people because he knows their culture and customs.
Mark writes to the Romans, the "super power" of the world at that time. The Romans were not interested in genealogy and had no interest in fulfilled prophecy. So Mark omits genealogy in his narrative and goes directly to the miraculous action sequences of the life and ministry of Christ.
Luke, a Greek doctor, writes to his own countrymen, the Greeks. As a learned physician, he commanded their respect. They were lovers of beauty, poetry and culture. Therefore, the gospel according to Luke contains beautiful poetic passages.
Finally, John writes to "all people," that they might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. There's much more to discover about the Gospel. When you are ready to respond to the "good news" of the Gospel and receive Christ as your personal savior, call me and I will answer your questions and pray with you.
May God richly bless and prosper you, your family and loved ones, with every spiritual and material blessing in the heavenly realm. I'll see you, along with many of my column readers Sunday, at Heart of Worship.
Pastor David Goode is the senior pastor at Heart of Worship Ministries, which meets on Sundays at 3 p.m. in the arts and crafts room at the Port St. Lucie Community Center, 2195 Airoso Blvd., across from City Hall. Column reviewed by Nance Cox.
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