The Gospels

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Matthew was one of Jesus' disciples. He was a tax-collector, so he would have been good at arithmetic! Matthew tells the good news that Jesus is the Messiah, the saviour of mankind (the whole world), fulfilling promises made by God in the Old Testament. He writes from a Jewish perspective. The Wise Men who visited baby Jesus, the famous Sermon on the Mount and the Great Commission (to take the gospel to all nations) are in the narrative. He presents Jesus as the One with authority to teach about God's Kingdom.

Mark was a younger man at the time of Jesus' ministry, a friend of the disciple Simon Peter. Mark's is regarded as the earliest written gospel. Peter told him all about the things Jesus did and Mark wrote them down in a very straightforward, dynamic style. He also portrayed Jesus as choosing the path of service and suffering, after His baptism by John the Baptist, and the One who has authority over sin, sickness and chaos. The gospel ends with the empty tomb.

Luke was a very educated man, a doctor by profession. He was probably a Gentile (non-Jew), unlike the other writers who were Jews. This gospel particularly emphasises salvation for the whole world ("a light to lighten the Gentiles"), God's forgiveness of sins and His grace revealed in Jesus Christ. It tells of Jesus' love and concern for poor and oppressed people, women, and those who were marginalised. Luke stresses the importance of prayer and the activity of the Holy Spirit.

John was another of Jesus' disciples, a fisherman like Peter, and his gospel presents Jesus as the eternal Word of God, with His authority, who became a human being (the Word made flesh) and died for the forgiveness of everyone who believed in Him. The "I am" sayings are here: Jesus said He was "the light of the world", "the bread of life", "the good shepherd" etc. Having eternal life gives a new quality of life in this world. Jesus is more than a teacher and prophet. John was at the foot of the Cross when Jesus was crucified.

All the gospel accounts were written by the year 70 AD, so there would have been people alive who had actually seen Jesus, and the rest would have heard the story of Jesus as it was passed on to the next generation.