Mark: The Gospel of the Suffering Son of God
- Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion in Mark are scenes of betrayal, desertion, and rejection. The disciples flee at his arrest; his opponents mock and scorn him. He dies in agony on the cross, forsaken by all, even his Father in heaven.
- Yet the informed reader knows that Jesus’ death is not in vain but is a messianic act of atonement, the ransom sacrifice for the sins of the world.
- Interestingly, the role of the disciples is primarily negative in Mark’s Gospel. They demonstrate ignorance, pride, and wavering faith. Jesus instead provides the true model for discipleship.
- The earliest and best manuscripts conclude with Mark 16:8! How does this ending change your perspective on the story, when you compare it to the other ending in 16:20?
Matthew: The Gospel of the Messiah
- Matthew’s Gospel is the most Jewish of the four Gospels, presenting Jesus as the Jewish Messiah who brings God’s people salvation from their sins.
- In his Great Commission (Matt. 28:18 – 20) Jesus tells his followers to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
- The religious leaders play a more negative role in Matthew than in Mark. They are wicked and hypocritical opponents of God’s plan.
- Matthew’s central theological theme is that salvation history finds its climax in the coming of Jesus the Messiah, inaugurator of the kingdom of heaven.
Luke: The Gospel of the Savior for All People
- Luke and Acts form a theological and narrative unity (Luke-Acts), sharing common purposes and themes.
- The central theme of Luke-Acts is the arrival of God’s end-times salvation. Through Jesus the Messiah, God has acted to save his people, Israel, and this salvation is now going to the whole world.
- The account of the Emmaus disciples, where Jesus reveals the suffering role of the Messiah, is Luke’s most important contribution to the resurrection narratives (see 24:13-35).
John: The Gospel of the Son Who Reveals the Father
- John provides a dualistic perspective where Jesus represents light, truth, and life, and stands over against Satan and the evil world system, which represent darkness, deceit, and death.
- The main theme of the trial and crucifixion in John is that Jesus is in control of his destiny and is acting according to God’s plan (chaps. 18 – 19).
- John’s resurrection narrative is unique in Jesus’ appearance to Mary Magdalene alone and in appearances to the disciples first without and then with Thomas present.
- John’s Gospel presents the most exalted Christology in the New Testament. Jesus is the preexistent Logos, the Son of God who perfectly reveals the Father.
— Mark Strauss, adapted from resources in his Four Portraits, One Jesus Pack: A Comprehensive Resource for Studying Jesus and the Gospels
How to Use This Book
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The pack includes several tools:
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