Twelve Days, Twelve Things to Ponder
The New Testament begins with four books that tell us about Jesus. We call them the "Gospels". It's where we get most of our information about his life. Each one of them takes up the most space talking about how Jesus died and how he was raised to life. That's why we call them "Gospels" (instead of something else, like biographies). They each make the same basic point: Jesus died to save us from our sins. Only he could do this because only he is fully God and fully human.
Each Gospel is different from the others, though. Matthew, Mark, and Luke have alot of the same stories, but they told them and arranged them differently. Each one has a distinct flavour and emphasis (as well as well some stories that the others don't have). And the Gospel of John, as well as "feeling" very different from the other three Gospels, has a lot of stories that are completely unique. The fact that God inspired four different people to write down the most important things about Jesus so soon after his death and resurrection is a great blessing! We know they can be trusted: they were written early enough that they could be checked over by people who were also there. Also, they display a variety of viewpoints, yet are solidly in agreement on the main things, like reliable witnesses to any event!
Although the books themselves don't tell us directly who wrote them, from very early on Christians agreed:
Matthew wrote the one that is placed first in our Bibles;
John wrote the last one, both in terms of where it is in the Bible and when it was written;
Mark was Peter's disciple, and he was also present, and he wrote the shortest and earliest account;
Luke wrote the most detailed account, was well educated and a very careful historian.
That means that two of the Gospels were written by Jesus' closest friends, the ones he called "apostles." Since Mark probably just wrote down and organized the memories of a third, Peter, and was there for at least some of the events, we actually have the direct testimony of three (or even four) eyewitnesses. Finally, although he wasn't there himself, like a good reporter Luke was able to interview many different people and write his Gospel with great care and with a little more personal distance.
Thank God today for Jesus, and for giving us information about him that we can trust!
"Therefore [...] let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."
Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV)
What Should I Read Today?
DIP YOUR TOES IN: John 20:30-31 Read