Let’s talk about the Only Two eternal Things on Earth, as we work our way through the four Gospels: Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (Luke 21:33, KJV). Over the last month and a half (in case you haven’t noticed), my FB posts worked their way through every book in the Old Testament.
At Easter time we discussed Passion Week, and went through the events leading to the resurrection. Then we launched our journey through the Old Testament all the way through the Minor Prophets. We looked at Malachi, the last OT book; then we discussed a couple of things “between the testaments”. It was interesting stuff, connecting the dots from the Old Testament to the new, and now we find ourselves in the Gospels. Those narratives are unlike any literary genre or approach to writing, and provide most of what we know about Jesus of Nazareth. Yesterday’s post came out of Mark.
So if you’re keeping up, and you’ve been reading for a while, you have now read through the entire Old Testament. Have you ever read a passage intentionally through every OT book before? Well, if not: Congratulations! You’ve done it! If you want to go back and catch anything you missed, you can always check in to www.bojackson54.com !
So, why should you spend time reading the Bible? There are only two eternal things we encounter in this world. One of them is the people we meet (the souls of men), and the other is the Word of God. We should treasure the people we meet, because as C.S. Lewis said, “You have never met a mere mortal.” And as we approach eternity, we can have hope because of the Word of God! I hope you are impressed with yourself for having read in every Old Testament book! You will carry those words into eternity.
Now we’ll continue to go right on through the entire Bible, covering the rest of the New Testament… Back in the Ten Days of Passion Week we certainly covered some ground in the Four Gospels, and since those books focus on the story and teachings of Jesus, I thought it might be interesting to pause and ask a couple of questions.
Are the Gospels Trustworthy?
First, why trust the Gospels anyway? And second, aren’t they just like any other hero stories from the First Century? Is their content eternal? This little chart offers some detail about the audiences and themes of the Gospels. They have much in common, but tell the story of Jesus to four different groups and in four different ways.
Timing of authorship would place them as early as 37 AD, beginning with Mark. It is commonly held that perhaps he used a source material as background, and that Matthew used either Mark’s Gospel or the same source. They were all certainly written within a decade or so of the crucifixion. So how do we know they are reliable, except for the fact that a bunch of religious fanatics think they are true?
Evidence Worth Considering
Here are a couple of quick logical reasons, courtesy of Dr. Jim Wicker of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary: First, no Jewish writer would have written about the story of Jesus without utter conviction that it was true. The Messianic titles of Jesus contained in the Gospels were problematic for monotheistic Judaism. If untrue, they would have been considered heresy punishable by death. So, it is way more likely they are true than that some first-century Jewish Christians made them up. They were committing blasphemy to consider them, and the social consequences were severe; yet these Jewish authors used them anyway.
Second, there were a number of intrinsic historical quality controls that existed in days of early church [when the gospels were written]. For instance, eyewitnesses to Jesus were still alive, who could attest to the truthfulness of the Gospels [or expose their lack of truthfulness]. If it was a hoax or a lie, people would have called them out about it. If it were a lie, SOMEONE from the group would have broken and told the Romans it was just a hoax, and they could have ended the fledgling movement before it really got going!
Also, the fact that embarrassing and even problematic material is included in the Gospels (such as the denseness of the Disciples) helps prove the Gospels are truth rather than fiction. (You’re an author, writing about Jesus; surely you can make him look good without having to put stuff in there that makes you and your friends seem dumb!) Using such an approach runs contrary to the common literary technique of all other previous hero stories or legends. Why show the disciples as dim-witted or slow to grasp who Jesus was if they are the very witnesses you are depending on to carry his message?
The Gospels are really unlike any other literature ever written up to that point in terms of content, approach, and technique. They are incredibly short portraits of Jesus, and yet they provide a richness of detail and contain the passionate ring of truth. That may be why they are still best-sellers today, and why we are still reading Jesus’ eternal words today. Maybe when he said, “My words will never pass away”, he knew what he was talking about… Quick: how many OTHER Middle Eastern rabbis from over 2,000 years ago are you familiar with? Amazing? Yes. Eternal? Yes. Coincidence? No.
Pretty Good News
The Gospels are Love, and about life and death,
They’re about every heartbeat, and every last breath!
The gospels are power and passion combined,
Eternal combustion and love intertwined—
Take a look at the Gospels anew, redefined,
And let them explode in your heart and your mind:
They are news just for YOU, of the very best kind!
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