DIFFERENCES IN THE GOSPELS
30TH Sunday in Ordinary Time
Oct. 17-18, 2020
Written between AD 45-100, the Gospels are the most important written tradition handed down by the Church. When viewed side-by-side (synoptically), the first three gospels are so similar and convey the same overall saving message; and in effect, created an unified message by using Mark’s Gospel and the same overall chronological framework ( from John the Baptist through the passion of Jesus). Nevertheless, there are many unique details in each, providing a marvelously, well-rounded picture of Jesus’ ministry and message.
First, there is the audience and sources used. Apostle Matthew wrote for a Palestinian Jewish-Christian audience using his own personal experience, “Q” (collection of Jesus’ sayings) and Mark. Mark wrote for a Roman Christian audience (Jewish and Pagan origins) and using St. Peter’s preaching, cousin Barnabas and St. Paul. Luke wrote for a Gentile audience and his own investigation (interviews with eyewitnesses), from St. Paul, “Q”, Matthew and Mark. Apostle John or John the Elder of Ephesus wrote for the universal church using his own personal experience, “Q” and the other gospels to interweave with Mark’s and to supplement all three.
Second, there is the themes presented. Matthew: “Behold your King,” the New Moses, 12 Messianic prophecies fulfilled, kingdom of heaven and Church, Son of David (Joseph’s family traced to Abraham). Mark: “Behold your servant,” Messiah, Son of God, and Daniel’s 7:13-14 Son of Man (man of authority and power). Luke: “Behold the man,” Jesus’ universal salvation (Joseph’s family traced to Adam by a different son of David (Nathan not Solomon), equality in healing, table fellowship, David’s Kingdom restoration, Holy Spirit’s and Mary’s roles. John’s themes are in his overture in 1v1-18:“Behold your God,” “I am” declarations, Jesus as prophet like unto Moses, Messianic King, manna/Eucharist, Blessed Trinity, etc.
Third, there is the content’s style and format. Matthew: Jesus’ five long discourses and narratives (Torah’s five books). Mark: Peter’s Acts preaching developed in a fast pace (urgency to believe), in present tense with irony, detailed account that drastically slows down at passion week. Luke: road to Jerusalem as savior and prophet “par excellence”(true God and true man) to the Ascension, adds more parables, miracles, background and detail information. John: more spiritual and theological reflection of Jesus’ Divinity (using symbolic images of life, light, truth, love); five additional miracles (signs), the growing blindness of those who reject Him, double meanings of words. By his sequence of Jewish feasts, John is the only author that tells us that Jesus’ ministry was 3 1/2 years and that there are many other things not written which Jesus did.
Because of the differences, we are able to see there are many facets of Jesus’ life and ministry. Mac H.