If you’re like me you’ve probably heard people quote or refer to Jesus in backing up their conversations. You know; “Jesus said this which agrees with what I’m thinking so I must be right.” The funny thing, though, is that I have friends from all over the theological, social, and political spectrum who throw out the “Jesus said” card when they think He helps their case. But I often wonder how much we really read the words of Christ or simply refer to cliff notes prepared by someone else in our own camp of thought. On the other hand, if we value His truth as much as we let on, then wouldn’t it seem that we ought to be willing to go to His words first without preconceived ideas? This is of course true for Kingdom citizens who have already stepped out in the journey of being a Christ follower. But for all of us, skeptics included, my challenge this week is for everyone to take in a heavy helping of Jesus directly from His own words. The challenge is for everyone, me included, to simply read the words of Christ with fresh eyes and then readjust our world view to His teaching rather than forcing Him into our own paradigm.
-If you have a Jewish background, then I would suggest reading Matthew as his target audience was the Jewish people, to show them that Jesus is the Messiah and fulfilled prophesy indicates as such. Jesus the “King” is key here.
-If you want a quick action-packed read, then go through Mark. This gospel was written to Roman thinking folks who respected action. Mark is a quick read with mostly accounts of what Jesus did rather than lengthy teaching sections. Mark recounts the “service” of Jesus.
-If you are prone to logical and historical thinking, then take up the book of Luke this week. Luke was written to logical thinking Gentiles showing them that Jesus was the perfect Christ and the son of God. Order is a key word here and the audience is the whole world.
-If you have more of a philosophical bent, John is the book for you. John wrote to the Greeks showing them that Jesus was the living “Word” of God and thus was divine Himself. John contains fewer miracle accounts but rather longer sections of teaching. “That by believing on Him one might have eternal life through His name.” (20:31)
-If you’re really serious about this challenge, then read all four gospels this week. You might have to turn off the TV for a while, but I bet you can get it all in. I’m actually a slow reader and I can do it. A lot of you are much better readers than I am, so I know you can get it in this week.
Each of these gospel narratives was written under the direction of the Holy Spirit through the personal temperaments of their authors to a particular group of people. They have different slants because they were written to different audiences. That’s why they all included and excluded different accounts. Together they make a harmony. Though these words were recorded years ago, they are just as applicable for us today. If you’re one who has questions about the authenticity of the Bible, you can check out an older post which gives some of the basic evidences for the Word. So . . . are you up for the challenge? Let me know how it goes.