The first three episodes of Word Online refer to the four different Gospels, written by four different writers, for four different reasons! This breadth of viewpoint gives a depth to the storyline of Jesus’ life and his teaching. The Gospels each highlight distinct aspects of the one story. Blending them together is not an easy task. There is a wealth of material involved, some of which is common to all and some only appear in one of the Gospels. The narrative of the Feeding of the Five Thousand is notably found in all four Gospels (Mark 6:30-44, Matthew 14:13-21, Luke 9:10-17, John 6:1-13).
Each writer brings their own style to their writing. Luke was interested in the historical detail and, not surprisingly, it’s his chronology the Word Online material follows. In Luke 1:3, the writer explains, ‘I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning.’ He had travelled to Israel and had spoken to eye-witnesses of the events and teaching of Jesus and used these accounts to write his Gospel.
Matthew, one of the twelve Apostles, was writing primarily from a Jewish point of view, which is best illustrated by his frequent reference to OT prophecy being fulfilled. He includes much of Jesus’ teaching ministry, including a series of discourses. There is a whole series of Word Online on one of the discourses - the Sermon on the Mount (Series 4).
John was the last to write, so he adds unique material which he considers as necessary to complement the other Gospels. He has a wide world view which is seen in the opening verses to his Gospel. John 1: 1 – 5. He adds material about Jesus’ visit to Jerusalem, in the last week of Jesus’ life, which the other Gospels do not mention.
Mark’s Gospel is shorter and written in what Martin Charlesworth calls, ‘a hasty dynamic style’, in the opening episode. Instead of Jesus’ teaching material, Mark concentrates on the events leading up to the death of Jesus which indicates his purpose to be evangelistic.
The main Gospel passage for each episode in Word Online, is indicated at the beginning of each episode and, where there is more than one account, the one that gives the most detail is used. Reference is made to the other instances, and comments are included on the added insights that one of the other passages can give.
On the occasion of the arrest of Jesus, Series 13 Episode 2, Martin has chosen to read the accounts given in Matthew and John’s Gospels, in parallel. Each writer brings different but complementary information and detail, which give us a deeper insight into the event being described.
Taking the four Gospels, in this way allows the reader/listener to understand the life and words of Jesus in the context of the whole story. Adding all the accounts together makes for a powerful and dynamic story.