Gospel Series Part 2 of 9: Why Do We Have Four Gospels?

Revelation 4:6-7
6 “Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were FOUR LIVING CREATURES full of eyes in front and in back. 7 The first living creature was like a LION, the second living creature like a CALF, the third living creature had a face like a MAN, and the fourth living creature was like a flying EAGLE.”

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Did you ever wonder why we have four Gospels?  Why do we have four and not just one?  Why not 12?  After all, there were 12 apostles, right?  Fortunately for us, the Holy Spirit has left us clues all over the scriptures and, as usual, has great purpose in everything He does!

The first clue we’re going to look at is actually found in the very last book of the Bible:  Revelation.

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Revelation, Signs, And Symbols.

Wouldn’t it be awesome to be able to see exactly what the Apostle John saw on the island of Patmos? Unfortunately, we really don’t know what he saw with his physical eyes because, as we learned in part 1, Revelation is a book of symbols. How do we know that? It tells us right here in the very first verse:


“1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and SIGNIFIED IT by His angel to His servant John…”

“SIGNIFIED” means “SYMBOLS,”..…unless you really believe that Jesus is a young lamb with seven horns and seven eyes, as pictured below.

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I don’t think so!  Of course He doesn’t really look like that.  The symbols do, however, tell us a lot about Jesus.

Interpreting Biblical Symbols.
When you can consistently interpret what Biblical symbols mean, you can decode much of The Book, and I’m not just referring to Revelation.  For instance:  Wherever it is found in scripture, “Horn” speaks of “Authority.”  Seven is the Biblical number of completion.  So seven horns would mean “Full authority.”


Eyes typify discernment in scripture therefore seven eyes means, “Full discernment.”
Jesus has FULL authority, FULL discernment, and He is FULL of the Holy Spirit!

(For more on the meaning of numbers in the Bible, you may do further study by following the link below:

https://emmausroadministries.wordpress.com/2016/03/20/bible-numerics/)

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Why Four Gospels?
What does all this have to do with why we have four gospels?” you ask.  The number four reveals wonderful things about Jesus, as you will see below.

Paul told the Christians of Corinth in II Corinthians 3:18, that “…we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

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Since we are transformed by beholding Jesus, it stands to reason that the better, clearer picture we have of Him, the more like Him we become, and the better for us! Well, the four gospels are Holy Spirit’s creative way of giving us that crystal clear picture.


The Number Four

God saw fit to have documented four different stories of His life in the flesh, not only because He is proud of Him, but in order to bless His people. Each Gospel tells the story of Jesus’ earthly life from four different perspectives.  In their own unique way, they unveil 1) His Glory, 2) His Work, 3) His Humanity, and 4) His Divinity.  Put them all together and they spell, “Love!”

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Four is a recurring theme through scripture. Around the tabernacle of Moses, for instance, the tribes of Israel camped on it’s four sides, as pictured above. As you can see, their camp forms the shape of the cross!

Pictured on the banners closest to the Tabernacle of meeting were four faces:  A lion, an ox, a man’s face, and a flying eagle.  These same four pictures are also on the veil of the Tabernacle between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies.  That veil rested on four pillars.

The altars all had four horns depicting the four sides of the cross.

Most significant of all, the cross on which our Savior hung had four points. God wanted salvation to extend to the four corners of the world!

The Tabernacle had four coverings, each very significant in their own right. For more on that topic, you may follow the link below:

https://emmausroadministries.wordpress.com/2016/12/07/four-times-covered/)

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The Four Living Creatures.
These four living creatures are mentioned in other places in scripture beside Revelation. Did you ever run across them and wonder what they meant?  Well, the Bible is its own best commentary, so let’s allow it to interpret itself.

Everywhere these strange creatures are found, they are listed in the exact same order as here in Revelation. It is always the LION, the CALF or ox, the face of a MAN and a FLYING EAGLE.  John records that he saw these four creatures “In the midst of the throne.”  THEY ARE THE FOUR FACES OF JESUS.

That is why there were four pictures on the veil of the tabernacle. They represent the four gospels.  In other words, they are all desciptions of Jesus!

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The LION.
The first living creature was like a “LION.”  The lion is called, “The king of the beasts.”  As such, it is a typology of Jesus as The King of Kings; King of the Jews.  The Lion also depicts “Boldness.”

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The Lion represents the Gospel of Matthew because Jesus is portrayed most often here in His role as “King of the Jews,” though his Kingliness appears throughout all four gospels.

Lineage Of Jesus.
There are two genealogies of Jesus documented in the Bible.  The lineage documented in Matthew begins with David.  The other, which is in Luke’s account,  goes all the way back to Adam.  Why?  That is a topic we’ll be discussing in great detail in part 3.

Jewish Gospel.
Matthew’s gospel is much more Jewish in nature than any other.  He wrote it specifically TO them.  This is why you see the phrase “Kingdom of heaven” everywhere instead of “Kingdom of God,” because Jewish people don’t like to say “God” or “Yahweh.״  They are afraid of blaspheming His Name.  They also refer to Him as “haShem,” which means, “The Name,” or they’ll write “G-d,” leaving out the “O.”

Matthew wrote his gospel this way out of respect for their reverence for the Name of God.

Millennial Kingdom.
But there is another reason.  You see, the Jewish people were waiting for the literal, physical Kingdom to be established here on earth, complete with a conquering King ruling from Jerusalem. Had they recognized and accepted Jesus as their Messiah when He came the first time, His millennial kingdom would have been set up at that time.  But because they rejected Him, it is now postponed until after the seven years of tribulation, which is ended by Jesus’ 2nd coming.

This is also another subject in and of itself.  You may follow the link below if you’d like to read more on that topic:
https://emmausroadministries.wordpress.com/2016/05/07/the-kingdom-of-heaven-part-6-of-16-rightly-dividing-the-word-of-god/

In other gospels, a similar passage would use God’s name because Christians are not afraid to say “God, Yahweh, or Jesus.” We are not under any religious bondage or slavish fear about His Name. You see, you and I are Sons, not servants. Because of that, we also get to call God, “Daddy!” which is His favorite name; the one that Jesus came to reveal.

(For more on that topic, follow the link below:

https://emmausroadministries.wordpress.com/2016/07/27/no-longer-disciple-sons-and-daughters/)


Not The Gospel Jesus Preached.
The gospel we preach today is actually not the same one that Jesus preached. He went about proclaiming, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  That’s because it was.  The King, “Jesus,” was stadning there, right in front of them.  He would have set up His millenial kingdom and ruled the whole world from Jerusalem then and there, seated on the throne of a His father, David.

But that didn’t happen because of Jewish rejection of their Messiah.  They missed their visitation.  Please refer to the link above for more.

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Parable Of The Ten Virgins.
Once you understand that Matthew wrote TO the Jewish people, it clears up a lot of confusion, like the parable of the ten virgins, for example.  This story is talking about Israel, NOT THE CHURCH.

You see, the Church is not the only group the Bible calls “Virgin.” Israel is also called the “Virgin daughter of God” in several Old Testament references. Those of natural Israel who are not ready, i.e. born again (lamps full of oil/the Holy Spirit) when the Bridegroom comes to call for His Bride (the Church) at the time of the rapture, will be left behind. When it takes place, only about half the nation of Israel will be born again believers.

Misapplied Scripture.
This passage of scripture is so often misunderstood and misapplied to the Church. However, those who think it does apply to saved individuals must be consistent and say that only half of born again believers are going up in the rapture. The other half will be left behind. That is not only cruel and doesn’t make ANY sense at all, IT ISN’T TRUE.

(For more in depth information on this topic follow this link:
https://emmausroadministries.wordpress.com/2016/05/07/the-gospels-part-3-of-16-rightly-dividing-the-word-of-god/

rapture

The Rapture.
Most people are basically negative.  They are more likely to suspect that they are going to be in the left-behind group.  Those who self-righteously preach that this applies to the Church undoubtedly believe themselves to be in the “going up group” if you asked them.

The truth is, EVERYONE WHO IS BORN AGAIN, regardless of their level of faithfulness or lack thereof, IS IN THE GOING-UP GROUP,  even if they don’t believe in the rapture.  These “unbelieving” believers just may be a “bit” surprised.

To be raptured, there is only one qualification:  That you be alive and remain. (See 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17)

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The Ox.
The next living creature was “Like a calf or ox.”  This represents the Gospel of Mark.  Why?  Because in this Gospel, Jesus is portrayed as the Divine Servant.
The calf, or ox, is an untiring servant; a laboring worker.  There is no genealogy recorded here because one doesn’t inquire after the pedigree of a servant.

The Ox was also the largest animal that was used in Temple sacrifices.  All of them pointed toward Jesus’ once-for-all sacrifice that would happen in the distant future

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The Lesson Of Mary And Martha.
Though recorded in Luke’s Gospel, there is a lesson to be learned about our Divine Servant in the story of Mary and Martha.

I know, we all prefer to think in terms of us serving Jesus, but the truth is we are bankrupt. We have nothing to give Him. THE HUMBLEST THING YOU AND I CAN DO IS ALLOW HIM TO SERVE US. That’s why He defended Mary when Martha complained about her. Mary was allowing Jesus to serve her. He gained strength from her allowing Him to serve her because she allowed Him to be God to her.

Pouring Out Of An Empty Vessel.
Martha, who was worried about serving Jesus was in essence, “Pouring out of an empty vessel.” The essence of true ministry is pouring out of ourselves what Jesus has first poured in. Then, and only then, can it flow out from us effortlessly.


Attempting to serve without first being filled caused Martha to be angry and bitter.  Notice how she blamed both Jesus and Mary in one shot. She was more worried about the “many things” instead of “THE ONE THING;” or should I say, the One Person.   She was all about her service to Him instead of humbling herself to let Him to serve her.

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Because Mary allowed herself to be served, she was the one who appeared at the foot of the cross, ready to minister to Jesus In His darkest hour.  Martha was nowhere to be found.

The Face Of A Man.

The next living creature was like the face of a MAN. This is the Gospel of Luke where we see Jesus portrayed as the Son of Man, living a human life.   He was born of a human woman, He grew in knowledge, in stature, and in favor with God and man.

Man speaks of intelligence; of human sympathies and emotions.  That was Jesus!  That IS Jesus!

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Why portray him as a man? Because we can get so caught up in the deity, Lordship and majesty of Jesus that we completely forget He is also 100% man. He has feelings and emotions just like us. He’s been through the same things. He doesn’t merely understand what we go through; HE FEELS WHAT WE FEEL, and is full of compassion for us.
There is an honest to goodness, real, live, beating human heart in heaven today, a perfect Man, seated at the right hand of our Father, interceding for us.  That’s the kind of Great High Priest we have!

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The Eagle.
The last living creature is like a FLYING EAGLE. There is no genealogy is listed in this gospel either.  Why? Because God has “No beginning and no end, hence NO GENEALOGY.

John begins by saying, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God……..and the Word became flesh and dwelled among us…”
Jesus is portrayed most often throughout the gospel of John as the “Son of God” Who came directly from heaven. There is your “Key” to the book.

When you think of an eagle what comes to mind? Sharp vision, flying high above in the heavens. Eagles can see far and wide, descriptive of discernment and prophetic insight.

Dual Nature.
Jesus was born of a human, yes, but He came to us straight from God. He has a dual nature: Both God and Man. Like His Father, He is eternal. Like the eagle who soars effortlessly in the heavens, Jesus is from heaven.

It is in John’s gospel where He says amazing things like,
“Before Abraham was, I AM.”
“I AM the Good Shepherd;”
“I AM the resurrection.”
“I AM the way, the truth, and the life.”


In the Old Testament, Moses asked God His Name as He stood before the burning bush. He answered, “I AM.”  But that was not His full name.  When Jesus came in the flesh, however, revealed His Full name.  That is exactly what you read above!

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The Power Of His Name.

When His disciples’ boat was foundering on the Sea of Galilee in the great storm, as He approached their boat He cried out to them, “Don’t be afraid; I AM.”  In our English Bible, translators have inserted the word, “He.”  It is italicized because it does not appear in the original text.  It is only the words, “I AM.”  THAT’S MY GOD!  Even the wind and the waves obey Him!

In the garden, 500-600 big, burly, strong, soldiers came along with Judas to arrest Jesus.  When He stepped forward and said to them, “I AM,”  THEY ALL FELL, PINNED TO THE GROUND BEFORE HIM!  He stood there patiently, waiting for them to recover, pick themselves up, and dust themselves off.

He ALLOWED them to arrest Him. Otherwise, they would not have been able to do so. He held out His hands for them to bind Him. That is Divinity!  That’s glory and majesty, through and through!

Complete Picture.
These four accounts give us the most complete picture of Jesus:
Our King: Matthew
Our suffering Servant: Mark
The Son of man: Luke
The Son of God: John

He IS the Lion, He IS the Calf {ox}, He IS the Man, He IS the Flying Eagle!

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The more we study Jesus in all His fullness in the gospels, THE MORE LIKE HIM WE BECOME. We become leaders:  Bold as a lion.

We become as strong and as healthy as an ox, regardless of our chronological age. In order to serve tirelessly, you need to be in good health. Though not impossible, it is difficult to serve others if you are flat on your back.

We take on the human feelings, intelligence and sympathies of the Perfect Man, as well as the discernment, prophetic insight and keen vision of the flying eagle.

We truly become like Jesus as we behold Him in all His beauty and fullness. And that, Church, is why we have FOUR GOSPELS.

Please follow the link below to Part 3 where we’ll discuss the Genealogies of Jesus:

https://emmausroadministries.wordpress.com/2017/04/17/the-gospels-part-3-genealogies/

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