Since we’re all writers, I’d like to share an English Composition look at the Gospels. My new blogging friend, Sarah Callen, wrote a post called “Topic Sentence” in which she bemoans having to cite her sources when she wrote research papers in college.
But then she fleshes out topic sentences in each of the Gospels. She writes about how each writer started their gospels and what they conveyed. I don’t like writing topic sentences. They are still the hardest thing about writing to me.
I know you’ll enjoy Sarah’s Topic Sentence blog post and her winsome writing style. And if you’re like me I loved the “topic sentence” approach to the gospel writers. Read her post and more of Sarah’s writing on her site at Work in Progress
By Sarah Callen
I love writing research papers. I know this is an unusual thing to say, but it’s true. I enjoy researching material and then distilling that information to educate and inform others. What I hate is the citing of material. If I could just do the research and the writing and not have to worry about citing properly, I would likely still be in school. #honestmoment
In school we’re taught how to structure a paper, but how often do we apply this same logic to other books we read? Have you ever thought about what the first few sentences of each book in the Bible reveals about the writer? More than that, what do those sentences say about God? I believe we can learn a lot about the writers of the Gospels based on the first sentences of the books they penned. Join me as we examine who each of these men were and what their viewpoint can teach us about the Lord.
Matthew the Record Keeper
This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham:
Jews were meticulous record keepers and Matthew was no exception to this. As a tax collector, I can only imagine how important this genealogical record was for him. This detail-oriented individual helps us understand where Jesus came from. His genealogy shows us not only about who Jesus is and where he came from but reveals truths about who God is. This list is filled with men and women who were flawed, some of them coming from sordid pasts, yet God used them mightily. I wonder if Matthew, a Jew who was scorned by his peers, took comfort in knowing that God could use others of ill-repute. I wonder if he ever thought to himself, if God could use them, surely he can use someone like me.
Mark the Storyteller
The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:
“I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way”—
“a voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’”
The book of Mark is the most action-packed of the Gospels and is concerned with what Jesus did rather than what he said. Mark’s book has an immediacy about it that isn’t present in some of the other Gospels and he is less concerned about the in’s and out’s of the Jewish culture than the other Gospel writers. This book was written so that anyone, whether Jew or Greek, could understand and see exactly who Jesus is. Mark reminds us that there is no distinction between us, one is not better than the other, God longs for all his kids to come to him.
Luke the Investigator
Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.
I’m not going to lie, Luke is my favorite Gospel. I appreciate the way he viewed things and laid them out for us. He had both the eye for detail that a good investigator requires and the compassionate heart motivating him to do his best research. Luke was clearly intrigued by Jesus for some time and eventually that curiosity led him to launch an investigation. He was compelled to write an accurate account of the life of Jesus with the hopes that others would come to know Him through the writings of a mere bystander. No matter if you’re logical or emotional, introverted or extroverted, gullible or skeptical, or anywhere in between, God wants you to come to him. And Luke reminds us that Jesus holds up under intense scrutiny; he can surely be trusted.
John the Convincer
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
John was so incredibly sure that Jesus was the Messiah that he wanted to say it in no uncertain terms. Over and over again in the book, he presents that Jesus is the savior and it’s our duty to accept his free gift of love and grace and redemption. John was not the main character in the story, but Jesus was, the Messiah being the one wholly deserving of honor and praise and adoration. Jesus is God, he has always been and will always be, he is loving and kind and gracious and wants us to know him intimately.
I hope and pray this little exercise has been illuminating and encouraging to you. As you read through these Gospels, I would encourage you to remember the author (and research them for yourself) and keep in mind how their viewpoint not only colors their writing but reveals something important about God. No matter the lens you’re seeing him through, Jesus is God and Jesus is good.