September 30, 2018

Investigating Jesus - Part 4

Investigating Jesus

Investigating Jesus

Part 4
Jesus in the Four Gospels

 

In the New Testament, we have four accounts of the life of Jesus Christ which are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. These are called Gospels. But what is a Gospel, how are the four accounts different or similar and what were the main points each writer sought to communicate?

Firstly, they are called Gospels, because they gave substance to the Gospel or Good News about Jesus Christ as described by one of his early followers, the man we know as the Apostle Paul (Romans 1:16) We know that during his time on earth Jesus Christ wrote nothing formally. Yet after his ascension, the stories about Him were preserved and passed on by his disciples and other Christian teachers and evangelists. For the first thirty years or so, these stories were possibly collated and stored together. That would explain the similarity in the four accounts of Jesus’ life. They are not an exhaustive biographical detail of all that Jesus did.

Similarly, the Gospels are also not diaries reflecting a daily account of Jesus’ life. Rather they are selective accounts of his life, and were probably factual illustrations used by his disciples when preaching about Him. Therefore, they would represent the theology of the disciples, as each story about is Jesus is told. That is why they are trustworthy accounts as well as rooting Jesus’ life in first century Judaism and the Greco-Roman world

The first three of the Gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke are what are called the synoptic Gospels. This is based on their great similarity and possibly use of a common source. Mark was probably the first Gospel written as it is shorter in length than either account written by Matthew or Luke. Mark writes as if Matthew and Luke used the Gospel written by Mark as a guide and elaborated where required. We see this in that Mark wrote none of the great discourses of Matthew (Mark 13 being the exception), such as the Sermon on the Mount. Nor does Mark show the great parables that Luke recorded. Surely if Mark had used either the accounts of Matthew or Luke, he would have used those two examples. Matthew is closer in similarity to Mark than Luke. Luke does share large portions of Mark and quite often verbatim, and with a greater use of the Greek language.

The Gospel of John on the other hand, while still telling about Jesus’ ministry, has vastly different story content. Whereas in the synoptic Gospels Jesus talks about the Kingdom of God frequently, in the Gospel of John, Jesus talks about Himself much more often, as in the seven I AM statements which we will look at in Chapters 9 and 10. For this reason, the Gospel of John was probably written much later than Matthew, Mark and Luke.

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September 29, 2018

Highlights in Hebrews 8

Highlights in Hebrews
Highlights in Hebrews
(with Roger Kirby)

Part 8 - Hebrews 3:1
Jesus rules


The writer says “Therefore fix your thoughts on Jesus” (Hebrews 3:1) This reminds me very much of the old song that starts ‘fix your eyes on Jesus’. Both of them are very good advice.

The image they bring to my mind is that of a collie sheep dog. We, in this country, herd sheep with the help of dogs who race around the flock and move it in the right direction. A collie will walk alongside its master or mistress scarcely taking its eyes off them and so walking very awkwardly. At the slightest command they are away very fast to follow voice or whistled instructions. Not only are they very obedient they are also very intelligent - one of the most intelligent breeds there is. So if there is a fold in the ground that takes them out of sight of their master they will almost certainly continue to do the right thing.

In the previous chapter the writer has been explaining things about Jesus, how effective his death has been for us in making us acceptable to God in spite of our sinfulness and general waywardness. He has now come to a ‘therefore’, challenging us to live in a way worthy of Jesus. (He does this most of the way through his book, alternating descriptions of what Jesus has done for us with challenges of how we should respond to him.)

Here his ‘therefore’ indicates that we are being challenged to act towards him as a sheepdog does to its master: with complete obedience whenever possible and intelligence when it is not. That is an intelligence that has been well developed by our past history of concern for scripture reading whenever possible, studying it and developing a good working knowledge of what it says.

When and how we do this is important. It used to be that everyone was exhorted to start the day, everyday, with Bible reading and prayer. That is all very well if you are retired and come to life as soon as you wake up. If you have a young family, need to start work as soon as you can, or, like me, are quite hopeless until you have some breakfast inside you, that is not very good advice. What you need to do is to set yourself a pattern of activity with the Lord that will fit into your day or week. I remember one time in my life when it was one evening each week, always the same one, which I dedicated to Bible study and prayer. That fitted into my life in a way that an early morning daily ‘quiet time’, as we used to call it, would not. Don’t worry if you can’t fit into someone else’s idea of what you should do. Make up your own schedule and stick to it. The good Lord will surely approve of you if you do that provided you are consistent and persevering.

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Partakers Friday Prayers

28 September 2018

 

Come and join in praying for the world and yourself, offering praises to God through Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit!

 

Order of Service

 

Opening prayer

Confession

Psalm 65

Prayers for Churches and Christians worldwide

Prayers for others

Silent time (Prayer for your own concerns)

Prayers for the world

Prayer of Benedict of Nursia

 

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