SOURCE: Gospel Advocate, January 19, 1984.
Four Perspectives of Jesus
by David Paul Smith
The first four books of the New Testament are commonly known as “the four gospels.” Each of them set forth the record and the meaning of the life of Jesus Christ. Though their purpose is common in that respect, each of them has a unique perspective of Jesus. We might say that each writer portrays Jesus in a different light of emphasis.
Matthew emphasizes the “position” of Jesus. He alone records the claim that Jesus made, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18). As if Matthew wants to emphasize this point, he makes certain that this is one of the last points he mentions. Yet, this point was emphasized throughout the book. Near the beginning, we find some asking, “Where is he who has been born King of the Jews?” (Matthew 2:2). Throughout the inspired book, we find reference to “the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew portrays Jesus as the King that has come to establish his kingdom (cf., Matthew 16:18-19).
Mark underlines the “power” of Jesus. Merrill C. Tenny wrote, “Mark gives more space to the miracles than any other Gospel; for it records eighteen out of a possible total of thirty-five” [New Testament Survey, Merrill C. Tenny, Eerdmans, 1961, page 164]. He has power over disease (Mark 1:40-45), demons (Mark 5:1-20), and death (Mark 5:35-43). His power is not without purpose though, “the son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Just as the miracles his apostles performed in his name confirmed the message they proclaimed (Mark 16:20; Hebrews 2:2-4), the miracles Jesus himself performed attested to his claims (cf., Mark 2:1-10).
Luke draws attention to the “purpose” of Jesus. Luke records Christ’s own words concerning his purpose, “for the son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:9). This is only reasonable since Luke’s work is continued in the book of Acts, the book above all that sets forth clearly the gospel plan of salvation. The position and power of Jesus makes this wonderful purpose possible. Isn’t it likely that on many an occasion Luke the physician (Colossians 4:14) marveled at the “surgical ability” of Jesus that could remove a man’s sin?
The last of the four, John, boldly sets forth the “person” of Jesus. Most of all, we see Jesus held up as God’s son. John himself declared that this was his purpose in writing, “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God; and that believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31). However, in this same book, we see Jesus as a man. He was “the word” that “became flesh” (John 1:14). As a man, he knew what it meant to be tired (John 4:6), sad (John 11:35) or thirsty (John 19:28). Jesus, though in every way like us in nature, was also an incarnation of God in the flesh.
The first four books of the New Testament declare the position, power, purpose, and person of Jesus Christ. It is now up to us to allow Jesus to hold the supreme position in our life. Let us rest confident in his power to save us, his great purpose. Since he is God’s son, we know that he can and that he knows our needs, and those first hand. Praise God for th epositioni, power, purpose, and person of Jesus Christ.
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