The Gospels are the first 4 books of the New Testament which tell the world who Jesus Christ is and announce the Good News of His Salvation. The word “Gospel” means “Good News”. We can all use some good news these days!
But who were the authors of the Gospels? We have Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. They were very different and each brings their own style to Jesus’ story.
Matthew, the Tax Collector
It’s interesting that 2 other Gospels tell the story of how Matthew came to be a disciple of Jesus but Matthew doesn’t. Matthew’s name was originally Levi. Luke writes:
Later, as Jesus left the town, he saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Levi got up, left everything, and followed him.
Later, Levi held a banquet in his home with Jesus as the guest of honor. Many of Levi’s fellow tax collectors and other guests also ate with them. But the Pharisees and their teachers of religious law complained bitterly to Jesus’ disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with such scum?”
Jesus answered them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.”Luke 5: 27-31
See, tax collectors where actually thieves. They knew how much the Roman government needed to collect and they raised the fee and pocketed the difference. Hence, they weren’t liked very much.
Mark 2:13-17 tells it similarly.
Matthew was a Jew, writing the Gospel for the Jews.
He starts his version with Jesus’ lineage proving that He’s the Jewish Messiah that the Old Testament prophets foretold:
This is a record of the ancestors of Jesus the Messiah, a descendant of David and of Abraham.Matthew 1:1
Matthew was an eye witness to Jesus’ ministry, the Last Supper, His arrest and resurrection.
Mark’s Gospel is Short and to the Point
Mark wasn’t part of the 12 disciples. He accompanied Paul on some of his missionary journeys, and he was friends with Peter. In fact, bible scholars think that Mark’s Gospel is a collection of Peter’s memoirs. Historically, Mark is the first Gospel written, circa 69 AD.
Mark doesn’t cover the Nativity — or the Christmas story. He starts with Jesus’ baptism and the calling of the first disciples. He relays Jesus’ ministry and walks us to the cross in short concise stories.
This podcast episode is on Mark Chapter 1:
Luke, the Historian
Luke was a Greek Physician who accompanied Paul in many of his missionary journeys. Luke was also a historian. His telling of Jesus’ story is more detailed and precise. Luke also wrote the book of Acts, so they really go together.
Luke writes his Gospel to a friend, Theophilus, who more than likely was a Roman official.
Many people have set out to write accounts about the events that have been fulfilled among us. They used the eyewitness reports circulating among us from the early disciples. Having carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I also have decided to write an accurate account for you, most honorable Theophilus, so you can be certain of the truth of everything you were taught.Luke 1:1-4
It’s interesting that Luke, a Gentile, wrote with such detail explaining the fulfillment of God’s plan to bring the Gospel truth of God’s salvation through Israel. He reports on Jesus’ birth with accurate, historical detail in Luke chapters 1 and 2.
John, the Disciple that Jesus Loved
The last of the 4 Gospels is the Gospel of John. John was one of the original 12 disciples and he, like Matthew, was an eye witness to Jesus’ ministry, arrest, crucifixion and resurrection. John was one of Jesus’ best friends along with Peter and James and addressed himself as “the disciple that Jesus loved.” Moreover, John was the only disciple at the crucifixion. All the others were hiding.
John’s Gospel starts very differently than the other 3. Like Mark, he doesn’t tell any part of the Christmas story. John was writing to Greek Gentiles, thus he starts by calling Jesus the “Logos” or the “Word”. To me it’s one of the most beautiful passages in the Bible. It’s so full of hope and light for this dark world…
In the beginning the Word already existed.
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He existed in the beginning with God.
God created everything through him,
and nothing was created except through him.
The Word gave life to everything that was created,
and his life brought light to everyone.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it.
God sent a man, John the Baptist, to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.
He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.
So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.John 1:1-14
The Good News of Jesus’ True Salvation
All together, the Gospels tell precisely…
- who Jesus was
- why He left His home in Heaven to become fully man, yet still be fully God
- how He, who was sinless, took on our sins, died a criminal’s death so we could have eternal life and not go to Hell
- how by believing in Him as the Messiah we are saved from sin and have our 1-way, non-stop ticket to Heaven
- why we should follow Jesus and not other false teachers
- how we should live as His followers
- and why and how we should tell other people about Jesus and make more disciples
If you’re not sure that you’ve got your 1-way, non-stop ticket to Heaven, pray this prayer right now…
“Dear Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner. I believe You died for my sins. Right now, I turn from my sins and open the door of my heart and life to you. I confess You as my personal Lord and Savior. Thank You for saving me. Amen.”
Next Steps in Your New Walk with Jesus…
- Start reading the Bible daily to get to know God. If you don’t have one, I recommend the YouVersion, Bible.app and Through the Word app — both are free and have a lot of great Bible studies.
- Pray every day. Talk to God. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you daily.
- Find and join a Bible-believing church — preferably a non-denominational one and be baptized!
Soli Deo Gloria — to God Alone be the Glory!