… by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth… for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:10,12)
There are some that question the veracity of the Bible due to the apparent discrepancies or inconsistencies in the Four Gospel accounts of Jesus. However, the fact that we have four different gospels, from four different writers with four different perspectives of Jesus is actually beneficial. A good illustration of this is the scene of an automobile accident. Rarely is a police officer around when the accident takes place, so when he arrives, he will solicit input from as many witnesses as are willing to testify. Let us assume that an accident takes place at an intersection at sunset. A westbound car makes a left turn and collides with a car going the opposite direction. Witness “A” was behind the car making the left turn. “A” says that the left turn arrow was green when he saw it, and he was prepared to follow the car turning left. Witness “B” was in the car next to Witness “A” in a straight-ahead lane. “B” says he is not sure that the left turn arrow was green, but the cars in front of him had stopped for the red light in their lanes. “I couldn’t see the light clearly because the sun was in my eyes,” he reports. Witness “C” was eastbound behind the car that got hit. Witness “C” says the light had just turned green when the car in front of her shot out across the intersection and got wiped out by the car making the left turn. Witness “D” was stopped at the light facing south. He was busy checking his cell phone messages while he waited his turn to go. All of a sudden he heard the sound of squealing tires followed by a loud crash. When he looked up, all he saw were glass and car parts flying everywhere.
Each of these witnesses saw the same accident from four different points of view. The police officer must then try to compile all these differing reports to come up with an accurate picture of what happened.
Another illustration that comes to mind that is a little more personal. I am known by many different people, and if they were all to write something about me, they would probably all have something different to say. I sing in the church choir, so someone may write about my love for music. I also teach Sunday school, so someone else might write about my love for studying and teaching the Bible. I taught elementary school, and my students thought I was the best teacher ever! My teacher friends could write about my dedication to my students and the hard work I put into teaching my kids. My wife could write things about me that no one else has seen. But with all these different points of view, I am still the same person, and no one point of view tells the whole story.
The same is true for the story of Jesus. The four gospel writers provide four different perspectives from four individual points of view. Matthew was a disciple that had been called away from a lucrative career as a tax collector (Mark 2:14). As a tax collector, he was hated by his fellow Jews and seen as a traitor to his people. “The publicans were also regarded as traitors and apostates, defiled by their frequent contacts with the heathen and being willing tools of the oppressor.”[i] Understanding the mentality of the Jewish people, oppressed under the heel of Rome, and having witnessed the resurrected Christ, Matthew was able to perceive the authority of Jesus, so he writes his gospel to show Christ as the promised Messiah destined to reign from the throne of David.
John Mark wrote the Gospel of Mark. He was not one of the twelve, but he seems to have been “around” to witness some of the acts of Jesus. In fact, it is thought that John Mark described himself as the “young man” present at the time of Jesus’ arrest that “fled from them naked” (Mark 14:51-52). Tradition has it that Mark wrote most of his gospel as related to him by Peter. Being a “young man” and probably used to serving around the house, his perspective of Jesus was that of a servant dedicated to the mission assigned to Him by His Father; so his gospel is written with that sense of urgency.
Luke was a Greek, not a Jew. He was also a medical doctor – a scientist, if you will. Luke is very interested in facts and details and he points out many things that the other gospel writers do not even notice. Luke addresses his Gospel to an official by the name of Theophilus (translated “Lover of God). Luke is trying to make a case for Jesus being the “Son of Man” rejected by Israel and now preached to the Gentiles. Jesus is for all mankind and not for just a select group.
Finally, John was the “disciple whom Jesus loved.” The relationship is not very clear, but it is thought that he was a close cousin of Jesus. From the cross, Jesus entrusted the care of His mother to this disciple (John 19:27). From this close relationship, John was able to discern the deity of Christ, so his gospel is filled with examples that make this point clear.
From all of these gospels, we conclude that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the Anointed One of Israel, the Son of God. He was God in the flesh, the Son of Man. He came to serve and to do His Father’s will by dying for the sins of man and for our redemption. He is the Eternal Word. He is God. He is the Creator (John 1:1-3). He is love personified. “God is Love” (1 John 4:8, 16). “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). We could not have so clear a picture of Jesus without the different perspectives of the four Gospel writers.
[i] Unger, Merrill F. and R. K. Harrisson, The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary (Chicago, Moody Press, 1988), Listing for “Publican.”