30 Days to Understanding the Bible Session 12

Faith Church May 1, 2004

Covers Chapter 20—Comparison of the Gospels

Today we start the third and last section of our book, “30 Days to Understanding the Bible”

We have covered the both the stories of the Old Testament and the the New Testament

Now, we begin what the author calls an “overview of the Bible”

What this is is just some of the key features and themes of the Bible to help us understand the Bible better

Here’s what I mean by that. . .

We are going to be covering (show Arc of Bible Introduction) things like

Comparisons of the Gospels, parable, miracles, Messianic prophecies, (Passover and resurrection we already covered), Distinctive of the Christian Faith, literary forms in the Bible, Our relationship to God, self and others. (

Today we start with this first piece of the arc. . . comparison of the Gospels


INPUT:  What exactly is a “Gospel”?

The NT opens with the four Gospels because they present the “good news” that God has come to die for man so that man can live with God.

INPUT:  Why do we have four individual Gospels with four different writers?

Each of the synoptic gospels has a special emphasis.

They are all giving truth, but they are giving it from their perspective or their vantage point.

cf. accident reports (Cotterman)

INPUT:  How are the four Gospels similar? How do they differ?


Let’s discuss that question in a little more depth . . .


I. Matthew

A. Writer

Matthew 9:9 (point - Matthew was a tax collector turned disciple)

 INPUT - what is significant about the fact that Matthew was a tax collector?

B. Audience

Matthew was writing primarily to Jews.

This book functions as a "bridge" between the OT and the NT.

It's as if the OT has said, "He is coming" and now Matthew is saying "He is here!."

As a result, there are a number of references to the Old Testament in this book, and Matthew assumed his readers would be familiar with the OT.

C. Emphasis

Matthew's emphasis is on "Jesus our King."

It's interesting to compare these gospels and see how the emphases come out.

For example - Matthew, which emphasizes Jesus as King, has a very detailed genealogy (family tree) while Mark, which emphasizes Jesus as servant, has no genealogy.

INPUT - what do you make of that? (A king's genealogy was very important a servant's genealogy was not)


So, Matthew (1) He wanted to convince unbelieving Jews that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah and that (2) they should still believe that even though the Jews had crucified Jesus, God would still fulfill His promise to establish an earthly kingdom someday.


In addition to this, you may want to note that  Matthew records for us some of the most important discourses (sermons/teachings) from our Lord.

1) The Sermon on the Mount. (5:1-7:29)

2) The Commission of the Twelve. (10:1-42)

3) The Parables of the Kingdom. (13:1-53)

4) The Meaning of Greatness and Forgiveness (18:1-35)

5) The Olivet Discourse (24:1-25:46)


E. Application to us.

We're stressed two primary ideas about Matthew that we'd especially like you to "hang on to."

Matthew was a tax collector who wrote about the Lordship or the Kingship of Jesus Christ.

Look back at Matthew 9:9-13

 INPUT - Most of us have heard verses 12-13 before, but how does remembering that Matthew was a tax collector make the verses even more meaningful?             (He was likening himself to the those who were sick and in need of a physician.)

INPUT - How does the fact that Matthew had such an emphasis on the Lordship of Christ fit into this discussion?

 (He also knew that in order to change from that lifestyle - he had to submit to the control of Christ through His Word.)

Matthew teaches us that you don't have to have a perfect past to be used - as long as you're willing to submit to Christ as Lord and King.  (Develop - not talking about a "one-time shot", but a lifestyle of progressively and regularly submitting to the leadership of Christ through His Word.)


II. Mark

A. Writer

Barnabus' cousin - Col. 4:10

quit the first missionary journey - Acts 13:13

 Paul and Barnabus argued/separated over this issue  Acts 15:36-40

Paul later said mark was profitable - I Tim. 4:11

B. Audience

Mark wrote primary to the Romans

C. Emphasis

 presented our Lord as the Servant

as a result, you see a heavy emphasis on activity in this book--that's what a good servant does.

a lot of words like straighway, immediately, forthwith, etc.

there's also a heavy emphasis on the death and resurrection of Christ.  (3/8 of entire book devoted to this subject)





D. Application

INPUT - why is it interesting that John Mark emphasized our Lord's servanthood in his gospel?

1) he knew from experience what it was like to be a poor servant.

2) he was moved by the model our Lord left us of  servanthood.


INPUT - how does the emphasis on our Lord's death and resurrection factor into this discussion?

1) the ultimate form of servanthood.

2) it is the death and resurrection of Christ that motivates and empowers us to serve God and one  another.


Mark teaches us that a person can change--if he'll be impacted by the example of our Savior, and if he'll be willing to follow that example.

Cf. what it must have been like when Mark got the news that Paul had said - "Send John Mark--he's profitable for me in the ministry."

Cf. also - those in our society who want to say - "I can't change--they can't change."

Undoubtedly one of the major reasons so much is being blamed on heredity today is because people don't know how to change, or they've never seen anyone who's really changed.   cf. I Cor. 6:9-11


III. Luke

A. Writer

A physician - Col. 4:14

Companion of Paul - Philemon 24

Writer of two-volume history of life of Christ and  early church - Luke/Acts

B. Audience

Luke wrote primarily to Greeks (non Jews)

C. Emphasis

Jesus as the Son of man

As a physician, he emphasized how Jesus was the perfect human.

This emphasis is seen in:

Birth of Christ - 1:26-38, 2:8-20

Testimony of God to His Son - 3:21, 22

Announcement of Jesus as the Anointed One -  4:16-24

   - Missions of the Son of man - 19:10

D. Application to us

INPUT - how does the fact that our Lord was a man apply to us?

(Tempted in all points, yet without sin, was the perfect sacrifice, knows what it's like to be tempted.)


INPUT - how does the fact that Luke was a physician  fit into what we're talking about? ( the Gospel of Christ can meet the needs of every person, regardless of knowledge, background, etc.)



Now, when we come to the Gospel of John, this Gospel is a little different than the other Gospels



INPUT:  Anybody know why? 

Matthew, Mark, and Luke are called the Synoptic Gospels (lit. “Seen together”)

John is more of an “evidential” account to present evidence to convince individuals for a specific purpose which we will talk about in a minute.  It is not meant to be so much a historical chronology—Although it does contain history.


IV.  John


A.  The Writer

INPUT:  What do you know about John?

(one of Peter's former Fishing partners - Luke 5:10-11,  one of the disciples - Mark 3:17 so far two writers have been disciples--Matthew/John--two have not, . early in his ministry - nicknamed "boanerges" - Son of Thunder - earned that nickname - Luke 9:54, referred to himself in his gospel as "the disciple that Jesus loved" - 13:23; 18:15,16; 19:26, 2,  also wrote I, II, III John, and Revelation - earned him the reputation as "the Apostle of Love")


INPUT - How does the story of John's life parallel what we learned about the other gospel writers?


B. Purpose

One of the great things about this book is that John clearly states his purpose for writing

- READ 20:20, 31

To record a sample of Jesus' miracles John makes it clear that He wasn't seeking to be "exhaustive" in his approach  instead, he selects certain miracles that illustrate the points He is seeking to make about our Lord

We will discuss those miracles in more detail later, but just to give you a sampling. . .( Water changed into wine,. The five thousand fed,  Walking on the water,  The blind man healed, Lazarus raised from the dead )

Point is - John states clearly that he wanted to record  some of Jesus' "signs" or "miracles."

But there was a purpose for that...


PURPOSE:  So that men and women might believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

The fundamental question that rumbles throughout this book is "What will you do with the message of Jesus Christ?"

Not just "here it is", but "here it is and how are you going to respond?"

This issue of "will you believe" comes out even in the opening "Prologue" of the book.


 INPUT - glance down through verses 1:4-13 and point out one of the three ways that John points out the conflict that is created by this message  of believing in Christ. (  - light/darkness           - came to His own/own did not receive Him

             - physical birth/spiritual birth - vs. 13


Point is - yes, John wrote to record some of the  miracles of Christ--but he wrote them so that men  and women might believe in Him.



The next thing we need to talk about is:

What must we believe about Jesus?

John is presenting a very clear message of what we   must believe about Christ.  According to 20:30, 31   

INPUT - how would you answer this question?     (that He's the Son of God--He is GOD)


What we mean by that, and what John meant by   that, was that Jesus Christ is 100% God.

The Bible teaches the deity of Christ, and that message comes through loud and clear in this book.

Please don't get hung up on idea of "Son of  God" as if that indicates that Jesus is somehow less than God the Father or deficient  in some way.

To a Jew, "Son of" meant "exact copy"

We'll show later how those who heard Jesus' message understood exactly what Christ was claiming by that title.

I'd also like to point out here that this is one of Satan’s great points of attack.

He can't destroy Christ Himself - he already tried that and failed miserably.

But his strategy now is to deceive men and women about who Christ really was.

Often it's through subtle errors about the person of Christ. (May want to develop how cults distort and deny the deity of Christ)


INPUT:  What are some verses that indicate or imply the deity of Christ in the Gospel of John (Hit the following as you have time, you may want to select just a few choice ones from the following list)


His pre-existence and his claims

John 1:1-3 - In the beginning was the world...Word was God

John 10:30—I and the Father are one

John 1:15 - He that cometh after me...for He was  before me.  (even though John the Baptist was older)

John 8:58 - Before Abraham was, I am 

John 17:5 - the glory I had with thee before the world  was.

He has attributes

has and gives life - John 1:4, 14:6

eternal - John 8:35

omniscient - John 16:30

true - John 14:6

righteous - I John 2:1

His power--performing works that only One Who is God can do.

created all things - John 1:3

gives eternal life - John 10:28

receives and answers prayer - John 14;14

will raise the dead - John 5:21

is the final Judge of the world - John 5:22, cf. 27

Claimed that in Himself all the deepest spiritual and eternal needs of humanity are completely satisfied.

the way to God - John 14:6

the door to salvation - John 10:7-9

light for the soul - John 8:12

the water of life - John 7:37

the bread of God - John 6:35, 51

spiritual guidance - John 10:11

security from danger - John 10:28-30

fruit bearing energy - John 15:5

life and resurrection - John 11:25-26

one last line of evidence for His deity is that:


Other’s understanding of his claims

Anyone who says that Jesus was not 100% God will have great trouble explaining the response of those who heard Jesus message and were opposed to it.   - John 10:30-31


 INPUT - where is His claim to deity? - Did the Jews understand His claim?  How do we know?

- point is - John did what He said he was going to do.  He  gave us plenty of reasons why we ought to believe that  Jesus Christ is the Son of God.


 INPUT - Why was it so important to John that we come to the place of believing that Jesus was 100% God?  - (Because otherwise, He could no pay for our sin.  Chapters 18-20 --concerning Christ's death, burial,  and resurrection--would be meaningless if Jesus was   just another man. But if He was the sinless Son of God, He could pay for our sin)

Faith Church