The Gospels: John

John  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 7
In this gospel Christ is presented as the SON OF GOD. All are familiar with the grand opening of this gospel: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God"; and toward the close it is expressly stated that the object of the Evangelist was that men "might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name." Chapter 20: 31.
Here, surely, a genealogy would be out of place, so we have none; it is God being made known. In like manner we have no birth, no parentage, no mention of Him as a child growing up, etc. All this would be out of place; all are omitted. But in lieu of this, we hear of Him as being with God before creation, and then of making all things. He is the true Light of men. And then "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth." Chapter 1:14.
In this gospel alone we get the raising of Lazarus from the dead with that majestic declaration, "I am the resurrection, and the life." Chapter 11:25. But let it be again noticed that while it is manifest that each of the gospels has in view a definite character of Christ, it is not to the exclusion of His other characters. The one is designedly prominent and characteristic, though the others are there also. Thus in this very chapter where Christ declares that He is "the resurrection and the life," we also read, "Jesus wept," which beautifully brings out His manhood also.
In this gospel is brought out the cardinal truth of this dispensation—the personal presence of the Holy Ghost. "When the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me." Chapter 15:26. And mark those words, "whom I will send." Who could speak of sending One who is God but One who is also God?
Here alone we have the record of that confidential address of Christ to His Father respecting His disciples and those who should believe on Him. Herein is omitted the agony in the garden with the saying, "If it be possible, let this cup pass from Me," which is in substance given in the other three gospels. Here alone it is recorded that when they came to take Him prisoner, and He said, "I am He, they went backward, and fell to the ground." Chapter 18:6. Here alone we have that declaration of Christ to Pilate, "Thou couldest have no power at all against Me, except it were given thee from above." Chapter 19:11. And here we have no ascension. It was as Son of man He ascended; but here He is the Son of God; and the reader will not fail to see how characteristic are the other points above noticed as to Christ in His divine character of THE SON OF GOD.
This then is a rapid sketch of the characteristics of the four gospels, and it is believed that they will bear the fullest investigation and will be found not only to lie in their broader outlines, but also in their minister details. Nothing more is attempted here than the merest outline; hut if Christians, instead of straining any part to form harmonies of the gospels, would more study the characteristic differences of those divine records, it is believed they would, under the blessing of God, gain much instruction and see beauties they have never yet discovered.
And now we trust we have gained answers to the questions with which we started:
Why are there four gospels?
Because God designed to set forth Christ in four different characters.
Why do the gospels differ?
Because God has thus the better brought out those different characters.
3. Are the gospels thus differing fully inspired?
They are; God is the author. They are "God-inspired," and He must have done His work perfectly. Not only the statements, but the words, are inspired; and to alter a word or leave out or transpose a sentence is only to spoil the work of God and mar the "fine touches" of the Spirit of God.
The writer is well aware that by some this will be called fancy or something worse. He knows that the full inspiration of the Scriptures is daily being more and more undermined. He has already quoted an accredited orthodox writer (as a type of many) who says we have the treasure only "in the imperfections of human speech and in the limitations of human thought." But then it must follow that God has done His work imperfectly, or allowed man to spoil it (though man would never allow an amanuensis to spoil his work), and we are not sure of any part.
But we are sure. The gospels are "God-inspired"; He Himself declares it; and Christ's word shall judge the unbeliever in the last 'clay (John 12:4848He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. (John 12:48)). Then by God's grace we will believe it now—believe it all—and rest the assurance of our soul's salvation on it. And may He give grace to us all the better to understand His holy Word!