During this season of Lent many Christians read through a “passion history,” which is a compilation of the gospel accounts of Jesus’ suffering and death. The statements, some of them filling in the others’ blanks of the four gospel writers (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), all converge to retell the story with a less interrupted flow than any single gospel writer provides. This is a worthy practice.
Today I am offering a completely opposite idea. Instead of focusing on a compilation of all four gospels that presents unified content, consider, on the other hand, the unique perspective of each gospel writer in his presentation of the passion of Jesus Christ. These, too, provide worthy meditation for Christians serious about Lent.
MATTHEW, who wrote primarily to a Jewish audience, would prove the Jewish nation’s guilt through its chosen leadership. He emphasizes Pilate’s reluctance in passing final judgment, the warnings of Pilate’s wife, and the influence the Jewish leaders had on the crowd as they forced their plans upon the people. Utilizing the Jewish Scriptures in the Old Testament as support material in his gospel, Matthew unfolds God’s plan of salvation that centers in the fulfillment of Messianic promises.
MARK is more concerned about presenting an ethical, mission-driven Savior than an ethnical one. Jesus is a noble and faithful Savior, great in spite of his lowliness, who submits to abuse even silently and never with thoughts of revenge.
LUKE, who repeatedly champions the underdog in his gospel, portrays Jesus in the same light as a hero who himself was oppressed unjustly. Gentiles, the poor, women, the sick and disabled, and other disregarded factions of society would find a compelling drama of grace in the detailed sufferings and death of a Savior who came as a humble servant. For all classes and colors of people.
JOHN, the disciple of love, wants readers to see that Jesus willingly chose the path of the cross as an act of his loving and gracious will. He laid down his own life for us – it wasn’t taken from him. In his presentation of the conversations that Jesus had with Pontius Pilate, John engages readers to ask, “Why didn’t Jesus defend himself?” so that we must conclude, “He wanted to be crucified, as there was no other way for us to be saved.”
Why not read through the gospel accounts of Jesus’ passion as the season of Lent turns toward Holy Week? See if you can put your finger on these themes, or discover any of your own.
PRAYER: Spirit of God, you breathed the words of Scripture into the writers of God’s Word, yet you planned for each to employ his personal gifts and perspective to present salvation as a multi-faceted diamond. Lead me to appreciate the truth of the Scriptures, as valid today as the day they were written. Amen.
FURTHER MEDITATION: Want to learn more about the season of Lent? Refer to this short guide https://online.nph.net/guide-to-lent.