“Socrates taught for forty years, Plato for fifty, Aristotle forty, and Jesus for only three; yet the influence of Jesus’s three-year ministry infinitely transcends the impact left by the combined one hundred and thirty years of teaching from these men among the greatest philosophers of all antiquity.”

-Author Unknown

Book of Matthew

A Suzerain Treaty is a treaty between a high authority and a smaller vessel king. The higher authority gives power and authority to a lesser king, but if there is a rebellion in his land the king would die and another would take his place. This was common practice in the ancient near east. Israel was very familiar with this practice. We see it a lot in the Old Testament during Israel’s history. The first time we see it in Scripture is Genesis chapters 1-3.  God created a perfect world. He put Adam in charge; Adam was responsible to alone God not Eve. Adam was the “king” and his “kingdom” would endure if he obeyed God. However, Adam rebelled against God! Following the rules of the treaty, God caused man to die and promised to send someone…a redeemer…a new king (Gen 1:15). From that point on, everyone is looking for the promised one who would restore not just paradise, but also man’s relationship with God. Little did we know, God Himself planned to come down to this world to deal with sin once and for all, and restore all things by setting up His kingdom. Who is this King? Matthew reveals the long awaited Messiah…..Jesus of Nazareth. Matthew wrote this gospel for his people, Israel.

 

Book of Mark

Mark’s original audience were the Romans particularly the Christians in Rome. In Mark, you do not find a genealogy or many teachings of Christ. Why? The theme of Mark is Jesus is the Servant. The word is “doulos” a bond slave (Mark 10:45). Romans don’t care about the life and family of a slave or what a slave has said. The Romans care about action! What a person does. As you read through Mark think of it as an action-packed adventure the way the Romans did. The book goes through the life of Christ very quickly. It constantly is pushing and looking ahead to the greatest act of Christ, His death and resurrection. The audience wanted to know what did Jesus do? A better question may be, why should a Roman accept Jesus if His own people rejected Him? Clement of Alexandria, an early church father, said Mark to write his gospel as a response to a request of the Romans that he write an account of Jesus’ life and ministry. The Romans loved listening to the gospel of Jesus so much they wanted it written down so they could read it over and over again (A Guide to the Gospel. By W. Graham Scroggie. Page 185). May we too never lose the passion and excitement in hearing, reading, studying, and living out God’s Word in our lives.

 

Book of Luke

The original audience of Luke’s gospel were the Greeks especially to one Greek, Theophilus. He was a Greek believer. Luke wrote to show one’s faith in Jesus rests on a sure foundation (Luke 1:1-4). We do not have a blind faith. Luke also wrote to show that the Jews rejection of Jesus now allows gentiles the opportunity to be saved on God’s terms of repentance and faith.

The Greeks cared only for philosophy (the love of knowledge and wisdom). They were seeking the ideal man, the perfect man, so Luke wrote about the perfect unfallen Man. Now Luke never met or saw Jesus, but, as a good doctor and historian, he knew how to ask the right questions to the right people.  He interviewed key men and women who personally walked and talked with Jesus. He wrote down their personal testimonies so that we may know more about this man we know to be Jesus of Nazareth. Luke tells us about the events around His birth, His childhood, His ministry, His death, and His resurrection. Jesus understands the difference between having a good and bad day. He lived them. Jesus is a 100% Man [keep in mind He is also 100% God at the same time]. He understood siblings [He is not an only child], honoring His Father and mother [including a step-parent], cried, sang, and laughed with His friends, felt stress, hunger, tiredness, was tempted to sin [everyday], knew suffering and pain, even what it is like to die (Luke; Hebrews 2:18;4:15). Best of all He understands eternal life in relationship with God something God desires for all men. One day all born again believers will understand and enjoy that perfect fellowship that is free from sin.

 

Book of John

John wrote his gospel for the world. He wanted everyone to know that “Jesus did many other signs…which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (Jn. 20:30-31). John understands that man is in grave trouble because of his sin. God Himself made salvation possible (21x in Jn.)! Man needs to believe in Jesus Christ to enjoy eternal life with God (25x in Jn.). John explains that salvation is an act of grace, a free gift; no one can save himself or contribute to his salvation. It rests on one’s dependence on God (Jn. 3:16-21). The word “believe” is found 99x in the gospel of John…So what do you believe? How does the gospel change and direct your life?

 

Book                                 Written To                                      Theme
Matthew                            The Jews                                             Jesus is King
Mark                                    The Romans                                     Jesus is the Servant
Luke                                     The Greeks                                       Jesus is the Man
John                                     The World                                        Jesus is God

 

-Holly Carter