Assigning names to our children is a big deal. In fact, most parents spend countless hours agonizing over which name to choose. That's because names have a way of describing the character of those who hold them. And that's certainly true of our God as well.
His name is wonderful. Today's program features message number six in a 12-part series. Chuck titled this next message, Four Titles, Same Savior. Jesus Christ is indeed the central theme of the Bible. As one quaint soul put it, cut the scriptures anywhere and they bleed with the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. When the Old Testament writers wrote of Messiah, they looked forward to the cross. When the New Testament writers wrote, they looked back upon the cross. No one wrote while Jesus was on earth.
Everybody watched. Many learned, some rejected. But no one wrote. So everything written of the life of Christ was written after the fact, afterwards. Those who wrote of the life of Christ are four in number and they bear the title, Gospels.
From an old Anglo-Saxon word, good spell, meaning good news. So each of the four writers of the Gospels wrote good news about Christ. New Christians don't know that the Gospel of Matthew is not a gospel about Matthew, but it's the good news from Matthew about Christ. The Gospel of Luke is not the good news about Luke. It is the good news about Christ as seen through the eyes of the physician, Dr. Luke. The Gospel of Mark is not a gospel of Mark himself. It is a gospel of Christ. Good news of him as seen by the missionary named John Mark. And the Gospel by John is not the good news of John.
It is the good news of the man who was converted from being a fisherman to becoming a follower of Christ. His name is John and he writes of Jesus. To the surprise of many people, the Gospels contain 46% of all that is written in the New Testament. I think that's surprising because very few Christians make a sincere and deep and lengthy study of the Gospels. Most of us hurry to the letters and we study about men who wrote of the Christ years later. But alas, much of what we read has to do with writings concerning Jesus' works, but they really don't have to do with Jesus himself as do the gospel writers. Four of them wrote of Christ.
Matthew, a converted tax collector, Mark, who was a missionary, Luke, who was a physician, and John, who was a fisherman. They certainly did not write all there was to know. If you take your New Testament and look at the last two verses in the Gospel by John, John 21 verses 24 and 25, you have ample information to tell you that not nearly all that was done was written down. This is the disciple who bears witness of these things, namely John, and wrote these things and we know that his witness is true. Next verse. There are also many other things which Jesus did which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books which were written.
Isn't that great? If all that he did and said, if all that his life represented could be put into books, I suppose the world couldn't contain the library. It took four men to write of Christ. Now don't misunderstand, just because there were four of them does not mean that just in the number we have there for accuracy. Because four men wrote of his life does not mean that the four wrote accurately.
You can have a number of people see the same thing and come away with different impressions and all of them off base. It's like the little piece written by John Godfrey Sacks entitled The Blind Men and the Elephant. It was six men of Industan to learning much inclined who went to see the elephant, though all of them were blind.
That each by observation might satisfy his mind. The first approached the elephant and happened to fall against his broad and sturdy side, at once began to bawl, God bless me, the elephant is very like a wall. The second feeling of the tusk cried, oh, what have we here?
So very round and smooth and sharp. To me it's mighty clear this wonder of an elephant is very like a spear. The third approached the animal and happened to take the squirming trunk within his hands, thus bully up and spake, I see, quote he, the elephant is very like a snake. The fourth reached out an eager hand, felt about the knee, what most this wondrous beast is like is mighty plain, quote he, it is clear enough the elephant is very like a tree. The fifth who chanced to touch the ears said even the blindest man can tell what this resembles most, deny the fact who can. This marvel of an elephant is very like a fan. The sixth no sooner had begun about the beast to grope than seizing on the swinging tail that fell within his scope. I see, quote he, the elephant is very like a rope. And so these men of Industan disputed loud and long, each in his own opinion exceeding stiff and strong, though each was partly right and all were in the wrong.
There isn't safety in numbers. Twenty people could have written of Jesus and all of them been inaccurate or at least so slanted in their view that they missed the point altogether. You see we cannot discount the fact that superintending the writing was the spirit of God. He working directly with each one at different eras and from different perspectives presented the Lord Jesus Christ in all of his beauty and in all of his holiness and yet gave us just little thirty five millimeter snapshots. Even if you put all of the four gospels together and run them in some kind of harmony through the process of time, you still haven't a film of the life of Christ blow by blow account.
You have just little thirty five millimeter snapshots, sort of like a missionary slide show with captions beneath each picture along the way to let you get the feel of what it must have been like. But you don't see it all, nor can we. You just get the perspective from different ones point of view. It doesn't mean that they were haphazard. Turn from John's gospel to Luke, the first four verses of chapter one.
You see what I mean? Dr. Luke was very careful not only in the practice of medicine, but in the writing of his work. Luke one verse one, in as much as many have undertaken to complete an account of the things accomplished among us.
Just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word have handed them down to us. It seemed fitting for me as well. A very personal word from the physician. It seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning to write it out for you in consecutive order. Most excellent Theophilus, so that you might know the I love this exact truth about the things you have been taught.
You know what this reminds me of when I read those, especially those last two verses. It reminds me of a person getting ready to write a dissertation. Knowing that he must or she must present the work accurately and carefully.
There is a great deal of research that goes into finding those references that will put the thesis together. And then the writing of it must be so carefully done that the exact truth is represented for careful eyes to read. That's what Luke writes. Why were there four? Why not just one? Why did the Lord lead four people from varied backgrounds and different educational references to sit down and write of the Lord Jesus Christ? Well, so that we might have four wonderful perspectives of the Savior. I suppose it would be like someone writing a biography of Theodore Roosevelt. And one person would write of his birth and his roots. Another person would write of his life as a sportsman and big game hunter. Someone else would write of his life as a military man. And yet a fourth would write of him in his political and presidential career. Same man but seen from four different perspectives.
Or Churchill would be a good example. His background and roots, his educational training, his interest as an artist in his world of art, and then of course his political career in the difficult days of Great Britain's history. Same man from four different perspectives. These writers have approached the Lord Jesus Christ from different angles so that once we study the snapshots we see the Savior.
We come to know him in four different ways. Turn to the first of Matthew. Matthew, the tax collector who is converted to Christ before he writes the good news of the Savior, presents the Lord Jesus as the mighty King.
More than any other of the Gospel writers, this is the man who presents the regal side of the Messiah. When you finish reading Matthew, you tie him in, you tie the Lord Jesus into the Old Testament. In fact, 60% of Matthew's writings is made up of Jesus' exact words. If you use a red letter Bible, you will have more red letters in Matthew's Gospel than any of the others.
More of Jesus' words. Mark 42% of Christ's sayings, Luke 50% and John 50%, but Matthew 60% or more. Matthew 1 begins with the genealogy of Christ, but it doesn't go back to Adam.
That's Luke's job. Adam would link the Lord Jesus as a man among men, but Matthew wants his Jewish readers to see Christ as the King, as Jewish through and through, the King of the Jews. So he takes us naturally back to Abraham. The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
To Abraham was born Isaac, and to Isaac the genealogy continues to Christ. Because Matthew wants the reader to see that Jesus is the King. When you finish reading these 28 chapters in the Gospel by Matthew, you have the distinct impression that he is the one who has the authority to reign over your life. 32 times there is a reference in Matthew to the kingdom of heaven. Nine times that which was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled. Nine times he is called the son of David. No other Gospel writer emphasizes the kingship of Christ like Matthew.
He is the official ruler of the nation. No other Gospel writer spends as much time with Jesus on the mount as he presents his great sermon on the mountain, because that's kingdom living. And naturally it would flow into Matthew's perspective. No other Gospel writer keeps you on the Mount Olivet as long as Matthew does, because he's establishing his kingdom reign when he establishes that over this earth. And he makes it very clear how that will take place.
No other writer spends as much time on it. And when the writing is placed over the cross, this is Jesus, the King of the Jews, writes Matthew. John expands it and goes further. Matthew stays with the kingship of Christ. When you finish reading of the resurrection, you see that the king is triumphant. Matthew has exalted the kingship of Christ.
Turn to Mark. Mark's story was apparently the first to have been written. It is the least unique of all the Gospel writers. Unlike Matthew, Mark writes of the Lord Jesus Christ as a lowly servant. He writes of the Lord Jesus as one actively engaged in serving his fellow man. His favorite word is immediately. When Matthew writes to Jews, Mark seems to write to the Romans, who were people of action, type A's, people who wanted to get a job done.
And so throughout the book, Mark's favorite word is immediately, immediately, immediately. Look at just chapter 1, for example, verse 12 of Mark. Immediately the Spirit impelled him to go out into the wilderness. Verse 18, after addressing a few of the disciples, immediately they left their nets and followed him. Verse 20, and immediately he called them and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants. Verse 28, immediately the news about him went out everywhere. The same in verse 29, immediately after they had come out of the synagogue. Verse 42, immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. Verse 22, verse 8, immediately Jesus perceiving in his spirit that they were reasoning that way within themselves.
It's all the way through the book. You move from one scene to another, from one action to another, because a servant serves. The key verse of Mark is chapter 10, turn will you, verse 45. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many. The Son of God, Matthew says he's the king, Mark says he's the one who serves.
And aren't you glad we have more than Matthew? Isn't it a pleasure to think of the Lord Jesus, not simply as high and exalted and removed in his holiness, though that is true, but he has come among us to serve, to be available. Have you had a need lately that no one else could meet? I think you have, all of us have.
Some certain requests that you couldn't seem to pull off yourself and you didn't know anyone else who could. You remember that as a child of God, you have one who is available. He didn't come to be served, he came to serve.
You know what, the longer I live, the more I appreciate a servant's heart. The less I am impressed with celebrity, the less interested I am in the greater lights, honestly. And the more grateful I am for the lesser lights. It's like the night, what would it be like if it were all moon and no stars? Sort of dull, huh?
When those stars shine brightly, though they are of lesser significance when you put them all together, they light the sky with a beauty all their own. Our Lord Jesus moved among men and women serving here and there. When Mark comes to certain places, he presents only what a servant would note. For example, Mark is the one who tells us that Judas sold his soul for 30 pieces of silver.
You know that was the price of a slave. Again, Mark thought as a servant, 30 pieces of silver. Mark omits Jesus saying, I could bring 12 legions of angels at this moment. Mark doesn't present that. Matthew does because a king has legions available, but a servant does not. Mark doesn't present Jesus saying to the thief on the cross, you'll be with me in my kingdom because a servant has no kingdom. It isn't that Mark didn't believe he was the king or that Mark didn't believe he had a kingdom. It's that his perspective was that of a servant. A servant serves.
He doesn't rule over a kingdom. When you get to Luke's gospel, it's different from even the first two. Luke wrote of Christ as the ideal man.
Time and again, we're given human interest stories. There are more dialogues, I should say discourses in Luke, more parables than any of the other gospels because people tell stories. And the human interest of each one of these parables was of interest to the doctor. In fact, in Luke's gospel, as I said earlier, the genealogy goes all the way back to Adam linking Christ with man. Luke tells us more of the birth of Christ. Luke being a physician would do that. Only Luke tells us of the childhood of Christ. Luke is the one who helps us with that in-between period between Nazareth and his baptism.
Only Luke. If we didn't have Luke's input, we wouldn't know of Jesus' childhood at all. Luke is the one who acquaints us with the numerous stories he shared among men and women of his day. And when Luke gets to the Savior's death, he lingers longer than the others because he's interested in the anatomy, if I may, the humanity. You feel the blows of torture in Luke's gospel more than any of the others. You feel like he is a man with you when you read Luke's journal. Luke is the one who alone presents that journey on the road to Emmaus where those men were stumbling along wondering what their future held. I'm in the last chapter of this gospel by Luke. After Christ has been raised from the dead and many doubted it and many knew nothing of it, these men were walking along on the way to Emmaus and wondering about what the future held for them. And Jesus happens along beside them and they don't recognize him as being the Lord. Luke is the only one who tells of this wonderful dialogue between him and them.
Verse 26, chapter 24, was it not necessary for the Messiah, the anointed one, the Christ, to suffer these things and to enter into his glory? And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, now mark this carefully, Jesus explained to them the things concerning himself in all the scriptures. This is one of the few times where Jesus exposits the word of God.
Can you imagine? We have all heard some mighty fine preachers and we have all been grateful for those who have taken the scriptures and explained them to us. But no one ever heard a better exposition of the whole Bible, at least the whole Old Testament, than those couple of men on the road to Emmaus. Jesus pointed out in the writings of Moses and in the Psalms and in the Prophets the things concerning himself.
It was wonderful. There's much more that Chuck Swindoll wants to show us in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. This is Insight for Living and we're in the middle of a teaching series on the names of God called His Name is Wonderful.
To learn more about this ministry, we invite you to visit us online at insightworld.org. Well, many months ago Chuck planned to share this teaching series with you because it's a beautiful way to prepare for the Christmas celebration. Who knew that the baby Jesus, born in Bethlehem, would be given regal names like the Alpha and the Omega, the Lamb of God, King of Kings and Lord of Lords? Well, in the coming messages Chuck will guide us on a biblical tour that celebrates these names that were ascribed to God.
Each one provides another reason to lift him up in praise and worship. And now for a quick ministry update, here's Chuck. As the senior pastor of a growing congregation, you'll never hear me refer to Stonebriar as my church.
And likewise as the Bible teacher on Insight for Living for more than 37 years. Again, you'll never hear me call it my ministry. Insight for Living is your ministry. Oh sure, the program carries the sound of my voice, and the ministry originates here in the city where I live, where we have our international headquarters.
But truly, without loyal friends like you, we could not possibly accomplish our mission. It's your investment that God uses to reach people with the message of Insight for Living Ministries. So when you give your special end-of-the-year donation, remember this. You're not giving to me.
You're really not giving to Insight for Living. In a very real sense, you're giving a gift to someone you may never meet who needs to hear the liberating truth of the Gospel. I can assure you that your donation will make a difference, large or small. Your investment is multiplied many times over as the seed of God's Word is planted in fertile soil. You see, we hear from grateful listeners every day who tell amazing stories of life changes when they applied biblical principles to their lives. The income we receive in December will determine how many lives we can reach. So let me urge you here.
Let's pull together as a family, one member at a time. Indeed, Insight for Living is your ministry. Thanks so much for doing your part during this strategic month of December.
Here's how you can respond to Chuck Swindoll right now. The quickest and most efficient way to give is by going to insight.org slash donate. But we're always grateful for those who prefer to give us a call and speak to one of our friendly ministry representatives. If you're listening in the United States, you can call 800-772-8888. That's 800-772-8888. Or once again, give a donation online by going to insight.org slash donate. I'm Bill Meyer inviting you to join us again tomorrow when Chuck Swindoll continues his series called His Name is Wonderful right here on Insight for Living. .
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