Michael Guest. The harmony of the Gospels
This aspect of fullness and the very special position of Jesus in this
respect is revealed to us by Paul when writing to the Colossians:
READ COLOSSIANS 1: v18
The question is sometimes asked: Why do the Gospel records differ in
This complete body: Jesus with his saints, was symbolised to John in
varying ways. Why are some quite important happenings not recorded by
Revelation 4, in the vision of them reigning on their throne, where a notable
all of them. Well, we need to remember that we are reading God’s Word,
written by men under the guidance of Holy Spirit power…. hence quite
In Jesus then, dwelt and dwells “all the fullness of the Godhead
different from how it would be if by the hand of mere mortals.
The 4 Gospels give us 4 separate, distinct views of Jesus, his life and
Now this fullness has 4 aspects, and we see this brought to us through
God’s Word by the 4 Gospels, and these 4 major aspects are typified by 4
In God’s Holy Word, four is the number of
faces: the lion, the ox, the man and the eagle.
God-manifestation which comes over a number of times in the Bible. For
example: the twelve tribes of Israel were divided into 4 camps.
Matthew deals with the Lion, the royal aspect;
The cherubim,… a symbolic representation of the glory of God, …are
Mark, the Ox, the servant aspect;
also fourfold, and have 4 faces. We have a very detailed description of the
Luke, the Man, the man Jesus;
cherubim in Ezekiel ch.1 and also chapter 10.
And John the Eagle, an in-depth view of the aspect of God manifestation.
We read in the book of Numbers ch.1 v52 of the heraldic standards of
READ EZEKIEL 1: v10.
Israel, and there were 4 of them … On the east, Judah’s standard of the
We see the same 4 faces again in Rev. 4. In that chapter, John brings
us a vision, a symbolic representation, of the saints ruling with Christ.
on the west, Ephraim’s standard of the ox,
And then in verse 7 we read that 4 living creatures, are associated with
on the south, Reuben’s standard of the Man, and finally on the north, Dan’s
that throne and, as in Ezekiel’s prophecy, there was the lion, ox, the face of
So the first of the 4 heads: the LION, the kingly or royal aspect. It is in
We mention this because it is sufficient for us to see that these 4 faces
are associated with Christ and the saints ruling in the kingdom in glory.
the book of Revelation, that Jesus is described as “the lion of the tribe of
The glory of Christ and his saints has four different aspects,
symbolised by these 4 faces: Lion, ox, man and eagle.
Matthew opens his Gospel by declaring that Jesus is “the son of David,
the son of Abraham”, confirming that Jesus is in the royal line, and is to READ JOHN 1: v14
reign on the throne of his father David.
In recording the events associated with his birth, it is only Matthew that
READ JOHN 1: v16 – 18
brings us the story of the coming of the wise men, asking: “Where is he that
What I’m trying to get through to you is that Jesus manifested,… or
is born King of the Jews?”
On the other hand, Mark, the Ox, … the servant or slave aspect, does
declared,… his Father completely and in fullness (v16). What does
not tell us of the birth of Jesus at all; his record starts with his baptism, and
scripture mean by “fullness” in this verse? Well, you can’t get any more
so it begins with that time when Jesus went forth to work,… the patient
than ‘fullness’ … it’s completely full … and so was Jesus in the sense that
labourer; proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom of God to his people.
he was the manifestation of God …. or as we sometimes say: Jesus was
Yes, the Ox aspect. The ox was used to do the work in the fields in
God manifest in flesh. That is, his character was that of his Father, and
he only did that which his Father would have done. This was what John
Luke is different again. We have seen that Matthew traces the legal
and the other disciples saw: “And of his fullness have we all received, and
genealogy of Jesus from Abraham and through the royal lion of David, but
Luke’s Gospel of the MAN traces it back to Adam, the first man. Hence,
So there’s this continual emphasis on the “fullness” of the
Luke portrays Jesus as the “Man”, …the man of sorrows.
manifestation of the Father through Jesus … it was complete; …entire,…
These genealogical records are very interesting.
But why are they different, and why does Mark omit mention of any lineage (genealogy) ?
The 2 records of Matthew and Luke are the same from Abraham to
Only Matthew (ch. 25) records the parable of the kingdom of heaven
David, but after that they are different. As we have said, Matthew’s
likened unto ten virgins, who took their lamps and went forth to meet the
concern is for the royal line, and he traces the royal line through David’s
son Solomon, King of Israel, but Luke traces it through David’s son, Nathan
It’s quite thrilling to read in Matthew … the royal gospel …the story of
the visit of the wise men of the east bringing the royal gift of gold,
Matthew’s record concerns the genealogy of Joseph, the husband of
frankincense and myrrh … to the baby who was born to be King of the READ MATTHEW 1: v16
And in the description of the last judgment in Matthew 25 (v31
So let us consider … because the real father of Jesus was not Joseph, onwards), Matthew is the only one to record: “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon
It has been stated that as Matthew’s list is that of the royalline and refers to the throne of his glory … and the KING shall say unto them on the right
those with the right to the throne of Israel, and because it concludes with
hand … come you blessed of my Father …”
Joseph, the husband of Mary, …it indicates that had there been an
At the birth of Jesus, Matthew’s kingly gospel makes no reference at
independent kingdom of Israel at the time Jesus was born, Joseph would
all to the angelic message, but concentrates on Christ’s royal line. Matthew
have been the rightful king, and that being so, Jesus would be the legal heir
is the only one to quote Micah’s prophecy referring to Bethlehem as Christ’s
…so was born ‘King of the Jews’. READ MICAH 5: v2
Another interesting point worth noting is, Luke records that the angel
… the emphasis on the ruler, or king, you see!
told Mary that her cousin Elizabeth had conceived a son in her old age,
Another unique teaching of Matthew is the teaching of swearing:
Zacharias being the father, … but what do we read in Luke 1?
“Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne ‘’’ neither by READ LUKE 1: v5 Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great KING”.
So if Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth, was of the priestly line of Aaron, there is
Here’s one that I like: it concerns the teaching of John the Baptist, and
of course, a priestly relationship, adding extra emphasis to Jesus as King-
READ MATTHEW 3: v1 –3.
Coming now to John’s Gospel…it is quite different from the other three
Now the interesting thing is that Luke quotes the same reference to Isaiah
(Matthew, Mark and Luke), which are known as the ‘synoptics’.
as Matthew … but let’s see the difference:
Matthew focuses on Jesus as the Son of David, the kingly line, and READ LUKE 3: v3,4
Luke as the Son of man, …. although all of them refer to Jesus as the son
That’s reading from Luke,… but Matthew stops there, …because the rest of
of man … but John particularly refers to Jesus as the Son of God, and pin
the quotation is not about “Abraham’s seed” but it is about the gentile world,
points a greater degree of spiritual insight … and the eagle, the symbol of
and Matthew’s gospel was not focussed on the gentile world. ….But Luke
There’s that lovely verse in Isaiah 40:
READ LUKE 3: v5 - 6. READ ISAIAH 40: v31.
Yes … all flesh shall see the salvation of God.
I read that the eagle has the strange power of being able to gaze at the
Yes, Luke was a GENTILE, and he certainly was concerned with mankind
mid-day oriental (eastern) sun without being dazzled.
So we see this beautiful design in the 4 Gospel records … designed, of
Both Matthew and Luke record the Lord’s Prayer.
But Luke cuts short at “forgive us our sins ; for we also forgive every one
So we shall look very briefly at each of the Gospel records.
who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from
Only Matthew speaks of the “kingdom of heaven”….the others refer to
evil” … and that’s the end. …But Matthew’s royal gospel of the King goes
the coming kingdom as the kingdom of God.
further: .” … deliver us from evil …for yours is the kingdom, and the
There are other interesting points that are only seen in Matthew, the
power, and the glory, for ever, Amen”.
Gospel of the King.
Let us look at Mark’s Gospel record now. Mark’s gospel of the
We need to remember that Luke was also a gentile, so it’s not servant or slave. A slave has no recorded genealogy. Mark was not
surprising that Luke is the only one to tell the parable of the Good Samaritan
an apostle, nevertheless this gospel presents Jesus as the servant of God.
… a gentile’s human kindness (The Samaritan was a Gentile).
It’s interesting to compare the preface of Mark’s Gospel with Luke and
I also find that Luke, being a gentile, makes many references to
John for instance. Luke’s preface is 4 verses long, John’s preface is a
women … much more than the others.
large 14 verses, but Mark’s gospel of the servant is simply one verse: The
I find that only Luke mentions the detail of Mary going to see her cousin
beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Elizabeth, and the prophecies of Elizabeth and Mary … the “Magnificat”.
We see the servant aspect of Jesus alluded to many times in Mark’s
Luke also speaks of Anna (Luke 2:v36), the widow of Nain (Luke
Gospel. In chapter 4 Jesus had worked hard preaching for a long time, 7:v12); the repentant woman in ch. 7 (from verse 36), who washed Jesus’
and v.36 tells us that the disciples ‘took him as he was’ into the boat and
feet with tears and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Luke is the only
being so weary he fell fast asleep.
same incident, but only Mark refers to Jesus being taken into the boat “as
Also in chapter 8 Luke talks about going throughout every city and
he was” … that is, tired out with the labour … the hard work of the day.
village, preaching the good news with the twelve apostles, but he adds: “and
Then a furious storm whipped up … but Jesus still remained asleep …
certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary
but those hardened fishermen were now very much softened, and they
called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, and Joanna the wife of
knew to whom they must go … waking him they yelled at him: “Master,
Chuza Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered don’t you care that we perish” (Mark 4:38).
writers simply record: “Master, we perish” and “Lord, save us we perish” …
… you don’t read that anywhere else.
but Mark chose thewords “don’t you care that we perish?” … yes … the
By reason of Luke’s Gospel being the gospel of the Man … Luke traces
words as spoken to a servant . .a slave… if you like!
Jesus’ genealogy back to the first man … Adam. Luke traces the
Mind you, in the panic, much more was said than is recorded, as you
natural line of Jesus through his mother, Mary,…unlike Matthew’s Gospel of
the King who traces the royal line.
Jesus got up from his deep sleep and “rebuked” the wind, saying:
It is interesting to see that unlike Matthew’s reference to Jesus, the
man born to be King, …
At all times, Jesus was ready and willing to serve. Yes, he lived for
… Luke’s gospel of the Man refers to Jesus as the Son of Man, and also
others … or should we say ‘he lives for others’. And in that story of the
Saviour of the world … and exhibits Christ as a light to lighten the gentiles
stilling of the storm, Jesus was the servant whether awake or asleep.
– remember, he was a gentile.
What is so frequent in the servant Gospel of Mark, are such phrases
And so it’s only Luke who mentions the story of the angelic message to
the shepherds … “behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall READ MARK 1: v35 be to all people … on earth peace and goodwill toward men”, …and only
I think it’s unique to Mark’s gospel … to read such things as: (Mark
Luke records the words of Simeon, to whom it was revealed that he should
6:v31) “He had no leisure so much as to eat”… and also (Mark 8:v12) ‘he
not see death, before he had seen the Christ,
sighed deeply’, is another one. That was when Jesus asked “why does this
… and so Luke, the gentile … the man … records Simeon’s words from
Isaiah: “mine eyes have seen your salvation , which you have prepared
It’s good to compare the wording of the synoptic Gospels where the
before the face of all people; a light to lighten the gentiles, and the glory
Let us look at other unique features of Mark’s record. The miracle of
Luke’s gospel of the man, is the only one to record the developing
healing the leper is mentioned by Matthew, Mark and Luke, but only Mark
manhood of Jesus at the age of 12, and on returning from Jerusalem they
says that Jesus was “moved with compassion”. Also when the young ruler
realised Jesus was missing. A great worry for his mother Mary, because
comes to Jesus, only Mark records that “Jesus loved him”. It adds a
touch of sweetness to the story doesn’t it?
No doubt, at the end of his mortal life, Mary would recall these three
Next we come to Luke … the gospel of the man, the ideal man.
anxious days when she again lost him for three days … in the tomb … in
Luke, as well as Mark was not an apostle.
Jerusalem … but both cases ended in joy.
As we have said, Matthew’s gospel concerns the work of Christ and the
Ah, but that’s the point … it’s human nature to want to report things like
apostles among the lost sheep of Israel, and so we read from Matthew ch.
that. But this is the Word of God we’re talking about. And only the things
READ MATTHEW 10: v5 – 7.
To us, of course, this is a tremendous proof that it is the inspired Word.
… notice that Matthew says “go not into the way of the gentiles … go
The critics, as usual, are blinded by their lack of understanding God’s way.
rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel”.
The Gospel recorded by John is unique and quite fascinating and,
But Luke, the Gentile, omits reference to the lost sheep of Israel and
simply says “they departed and went through the towns, preaching the
One thing that may have struck you is the fact that nearly all the
gospel, and healing everywhere”.
addresses of Jesus in this Gospel are based on the types of the Law of
Also, Luke the gentile, in ch. 4 is the only one who mentions Christ’s
Moses, and when he addressed the so-called teachers of the Law, many
references to Elijah being sent to Sarepta, a city of Sidon to a widow there,
times they were baffled because they hadn’t thought of it like that before.
and Elisha to Naaman the Syrian … both of them were gentiles.
The point is, if only they’d have put their pride on one side… they could
READ LUKE 4: v24 - 27
have learnt such a lot from this fountain of wisdom that Jesus was.
Luke is the only one to record the great catch of fish, so great, the net
They didn’t know how blessed they were. I wish I could have listened
broke. At the end of the age, both Jew and gentile will be caught in the
Now as you go through John, it certainly strikes you that most of it, in
Another interesting point, Luke was a physician … a doctor … and in
fact more than two thirds of it, is a record of the end of his mortal life. I’ve
Luke 8:v43 and Mark 5: v25 refers to a woman having an illness with a loss
noted that after chapter six this is so. Chapters 7 – 11 are about his last
of blood for 12 years. Mark records the distress of the problem like this:
few weeks, and chapters 12 to the end tell of his final week. Also most of
“And a certain woman which had a loss of blood 12 years, and had suffered
John’s record is concerned with events in Judea rather than Galilee.
many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had and was
We all know, of course, that each of the 4 Gospels treat of a different
no better but rather got worse”.
aspect of the life of Jesus. John’s record is unique, as I’ve said, … it is quite
But Luke, the physician (doctor), didn’t put it in such strong language,
different from the synoptic Gospel records (Matthew, Mark and Luke), but
… well a doctor wouldn’t would he?, But Luke simply said: “and had spent all her living upon physicians and couldn’t be healed by any”.
As each of the four Gospels is represented by one of the four faces of
One of the comparisons I like is the parable of the fig tree. In Matthew
the cherubim, John’s Gospel is represented by Eagle … the divine aspect of
24 it reads: Now learn a parable of the fig tree … and likewise Mark. They
were only concerned with Israel. On the other hand, Luke the gentile
I’ve read somewhere that the eagle is the only creature that can gaze
un-dazzled at the brilliance of the oriental (eastern) midday sun. Its eye-
enlarges it a little in Luke 13:29: “Behold the fig tree and all the trees”: Not
sight is phenomenal. It can be a terrific height up there in the sky and can
pin point the smallest creature way down there on the earth’s surface, and
With John’s Gospel, it is quite different from the synoptics (Matthew,
Mark and Luke). In John, there is no genealogy of human origin, …he
So … the eagle … un-dazzled by the brilliance of the Middle East
develops the theme of Christ, son of God,…no human father.
midday sun… is typical, of course, of Jesus the Sun of righteousness … the
But, as you can imagine, the critics love to pull the Scriptures to pieces.
light of the World. So the Gospel of John emphasises the principle of God
They ask why one Gospel records that Jesus said such and such a thing,
and others say something else. The answer is that everything on record
This subject of God manifestation is certainly a fascinating subject.
was said, but certain parts were selected by the spirit, according to the
If you do not have the knowledge of Bible Truth and the Bible teaching of
aspect the Gospel writer was dealing with.
God manifestation it is impossible to understand John’s Gospel. This is
The critics also refer to such things as … Luke records that the earth
so obvious when reading books written by the “high-ups” of Christendom.
did quake, the rocks rent, and the graves were open. And others that the
You completely miss the point if you believe in a pre-existent Christ
veil of the temple was rent in two from top to bottom … and the critic says
these extraordinary happenings are not recorded by John, and yet he was
As John’s Gospel opens, it’s so obvious that as the Word or Logos
(Greek) was made flesh, … Jesus was God manifest in flesh. So
They say it’s human nature to go crazy to report things like that.
throughout his ministry, whether by word or deed … by miracles … and whatever he did or said, he manifested the Father’s name. One example is to be seen in ch. 9: READ JOHN 9: vv 1 – 3.
In John’s Gospel, no genealogy of human origin is recorded, as with
Matthew and Luke’s records. John takes you right back to the divine: READ JOHN 1: vv1 – 5
Now here is a wonderful fact: Any believer who was in possession of
Matthew, Mark or Luke only, would never have read the statement that God ‘loved’ anybody. In a way it’s quite startling to discover this. We learn from Matthew, Mark and Luke of our obligation to ‘love the Lord our God’, or to ‘love our neighbour’, or from Matthew and Luke that we should ‘love our enemies’, yet we never read that God loved either Israel, the ecclesia, or the world.
The very first reference to the love of God in the 4 Gospels is to be
seen in John 3:16: ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life’.
But of course, although, in the synoptics, we don’t read a statement
expressing the fact that God loves us, it is revealed in countless other ways.
I’ll tell you another thing we’ve found, The word Jew or Jews occurs
about 70 times in John’s Gospel, compared with only 5 in Matthew, 5 in Luke and 6 in Mark.
Also, when Jesus instructed his disciples to pray he taught them to
say “Our Father”, But when he prayed he never said “Our Father”, as we are taught to say, … but he says “my Father”. READ JOHN 20: v17
Earlier in my talk I said that one thing that may have struck you is the
fact that nearly all the addresses of Jesus in this Gospel of John are based on the types of the Law of Moses, and when, in ch. 5, Jesus reproved the Jews, he said to them: READ JOHN 5: v43 - 47
There is a super abundance of hidden gems in this Bible ready and
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