Also from within it came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: they had the likeness of a man. Each one had four faces, and each one had four wings. As for the likeness of their faces, each had the face of a man; each of the four had the face of a lion on the right side, each of the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and each of the four had the face of an eagle. (Ezekiel 1:5, 6, 10 - NKJV)
I LOVE THE GOSPELS:
I love Matthew's Gospel...the Gospel of the Kingdom...the Gospel of the Lion-King...a uniquely important revelation, written for the Jews, from a firsthand, up-close-and-personal viewpoint, portraying Jesus as the Messiah so long awaited after Abraham...the King after David. There is a particular and sometimes palpable tension in Matthew, probably because it was written in the name of a Jew whom the Jews hated, because he was a collector of taxes for the Romans. But it is written with much love, nonetheless. Matthew was apprehended by Jesus, and was not at all like the other disciples, so the writings that bear his name bring a certain richness to the Jesus narrative that is essential to our understanding of the Son of Man. What the other Synoptic Gospel writers call the "Kingdom of God", Matthew calls the "Kingdom of Heaven" (or, better translated: Kingdom of the Heavens"). "Kingdom of God" says Whose and what it is..."Kingdom of Heaven" says Whose it is and where it's from. Perhaps the most significant contribution of Matthew is the attention to detail in the Sermon on the Mount...the blueprint for the "Kingdom of/from the Heavens". Matthew…the Gospel that roars!
I love Mark’s Gospel…you can feel the youth and vitality of the man whose name it bears pulsating in every page of it…the Gospel of passion and fire…the most masculine of the Gospels…a Gospel that gets the job done…the “can do!” Gospel. Matthew is symbolized by the Lion, Luke is personified in the Man, John shows us the Eagle…but Mark’s is the picture of the OX…strong…utilitarian…dependable…effective…the Gospel with muscle. No attention is given to Jesus as a baby…those kind of details are less important here. It’s also the shortest of the Gospels…it does more and says less…gets to the point…emphasizes themes like faith and power. Mark’s Gospel provides a much-needed paradigm to the big picture…an aspect of the earthiness of Jesus, the Carpenter, who personally builds His Kingdom without fear of getting His hands dirty…a concept that is especially appealing to the Romans, to whom it is written. Mark…the Gospel that bears!
I love Luke’s Gospel…the Gospel of the fully evolved Man…sophisticated…elegant…educated…intelligent. Luke is a physician with an excellent bedside manner, who writes a thoughtful and lovingly detailed letter to the young Greek, Theophilus, about the amazing God-Man. But in reality, it is written to all the Greeks, who would, in theory, appreciate the culture and refinement of its author, and the miracles and philosophy of its Main Character. Luke gives the most attention to the Nativity, because it is the most biographical of the four Gospels…it was also originally combined with the Book of Acts. It brings the Synoptic Gospels full circle, showing us the complete spectrum of all that was and is the Son of Man. Luke…the Gospel that cares!
I love the Gospel of John…a living, breathing Word, unlike anything else…so different from the three Synoptic Gospels. Each of them brings something original to the table, but John’s account of the greatest story ever told is in a class all by itself. It is the Gospel written for non-conformists and individualists…for those who can comprehend Jesus outside the box…a flight plan for eagles who exist high above the clouds. Matthew is written for the Jews, Mark is written for the Romans, Luke is written for the Greeks, but John’s writings come from the paradigm of a universalist…he paints his picture in very broad strokes, and writes with the global vision of one who sees the whole earth through a bird’s eye view. Can you imagine the visionary mind of someone who begins his story with , “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”? Matthew and Luke open the Jesus-narrative in the little town of Bethlehem…but John begins IN THE BEGINNING…in eternity…in the cosmos…in the now! You could spend a lifetime just discussing that one wonderful concept and still not be able to fully plumb the depths of its meaning. John’s is the Gospel of the Son of God…John…the Gospel that soars!