What Did He Say?

BibleToday’s question: Why do you think the Good News (gospel) about Jesus is presented in the New Testament four times? Based on style and content each gospel seems to have a different target audience:

  • Matthew – the Jews
  • Mark – the Romans
  • Luke – the Greeks
  • John – the world

In the last post on Biblelink, I recommended to you Eugene Peterson’s book, The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language. In the years since I first purchased a copy of The Message, I know that I have used it to read most, if not all, of the Bible. After sending out that post on Biblelink, I felt impressed to do something I had done only once before. Over a two week period of time, I read all four gospels straight through. According to the author, The Message is a “reading” rather than a “study” Bible. Therefore, it was easy to read through these gospels one right after the other.

I wouldn’t be surprised to hear you ask, so what? When I finished, I seemed to have some new insight into what Jesus was saying to anyone who chose to listen. Before this experience, I have to admit that I always had some “discomfort” in reading any of the four gospels. For me, what Jesus was saying was often hard to grasp in the midst of all the “events” that were taking place. So many different people coming and going with, what seemed to me, such a wide and confusing range of questions! I found the whole story in any of the gospels to be somehow “disjointed.”

As I finished reading all four gospels in “contemporary language,” I realized that, for me, Jesus was much more specific and consistent in what He had to say about Himself! I had always understood Him to be more or less “vague” in many of the statements He made about Who He was and why He was here. I found myself saying, “Wow, he really was specific in declaring that He is the Messiah!” I’m sure I was also helped by the consistency of what He had to say in all four gospels!

I also came away with a better understanding of why so few people really received Him and accepted Him to be the long awaited Savior. It saddened me to see that most of the people would not have given Him five minutes of their time and attention except for the many miracles that were taking place before their eyes. For most of them, even the undeniable miracles could not override the heavy load of lie-based thinking that “fallen man” has always carried in his head! The rich young ruler is a classic example (Matt. 19:16-20; Mark 10:17-31; Luke 18:18-30).

Hopefully your past experience in reading any or all of the gospels has been more positive than mine. If not, please allow me to recommend using The Message to complete a “read through” of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John!

Here’s your next question: Can you name the two world empires God used during the 400 years between the Old and New Testaments to prepare for Jesus’ entrance into the world? The answer is found in Part 3 of the Bible Overview Mini-Course. Here’s a link for those of you who might not have a Bible at your finger tips: www.BibleGateway.com. Praying that you will allow the transforming power of His Word into your heart!!!!!

Don’t forget to refer your family, friends and church to the Bible Overview Mini-Coursehttp://www.bibleoverview.net/.

If you have been blessed by this Blog, you might want to check out the Heartlink Blog.


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The Bible in Contemporary Language

BibleToday’s question: What is the name of the tool contained in most Bibles which gives you a chart that compares what each of the four gospels has to say about Jesus? In most Bibles, this very helpful chart is referred to as the “Harmony of the Gospels.” If you want to have some fun, let me suggest that you use the Internet along with this tool. Using either www.biblegateway.com or www.blueletterbible.org and your favorite web browser you can setup a “tab” for each of the four gospels. These websites not only have the complete text of the Bible, they also allow you to use your favorite translation. This way you can easily use the Harmony of the Gospels chart to jump back and forth between Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The chart is usually setup in chronological order which makes it even easier to walk through the three years of Jesus’ time of ministry on earth.

Speaking of useful tools to better understand the Bible, let me recommend Eugene Peterson’s The Message. I’m sure most of you have at least some familiarity with this modern language presentation of the Bible. Rev. Peterson was uniquely qualified to write this book in that he started his professional life as a professor of the biblical languages of Hebrew and Greek in a theological seminary. He later pastored the same congregation for 30 years. The author’s sharing how he found his congregation’s interest in the Bible to be nearly non-existent is very familiar to us. We have often experienced the same thinking with many of our ministry recipients at Judah’s Call.

In his introduction to the New Testament, the author explains how The Message was born. “For thirty-five years as a pastor I stood at the border between two languages, biblical Greek and everyday English, acting as a translator, providing the right phrases, getting the right words so that the men and women to whom I was pastor could find their way around and get along in this world where God has spoken so decisively and clearly in Jesus. I did it from the pulpit and in the kitchen, in hospitals and restaurants, on parking lots and at picnics, always looking for an English way to make the biblical text relevant to the conditions of the people.”* Of course he did the same thing between Hebrew and English in the Old Testament.

Again, the author says it best: “The Message is a reading Bible. It is not intended to replace the excellent study Bibles that are available. My intent here (as it was earlier in my congregation and community) is simply to get people reading it who don’t know that the Bible is read-able at all, at least by them, and to get people who long ago lost interest in the Bible to read it again.”**

If I find myself struggling in my understanding of a particular Scripture, even with the help of my study Bible, I usually grab a copy of The Message to see if the contemporary language will make a difference. It almost always does!

I have often found great help in Rev. Peterson’s introductory comments to each book of the Bible. One sentence in his introduction to the New Testament dropped into my heart and mind with the impact of a boulder: “For Jesus is the descent of God to our lives, just as they are, not the ascent of our lives to God, hoping he might approve when he sees how hard we try.”*** (my emphasis added)

Here’s your next question: Why do you think the Good News (gospels) about Jesus is presented in the New Testament four times? Here’s a link for those of you who might not have a Bible at your finger tips: www.BibleGateway.com. Praying that you will allow the transforming power of His Word into your heart!!!!!

Don’t forget to refer your family, friends and church to the Bible Overview Mini-Coursewww.bibleoverview.net.

* Eugene H. Peterson, The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language, ©2005 by NavPress Publishing Group: 1328.
** Ibid., 8.
*** Ibid., 1328.

If you have been blessed by this Blog, you might want to check out the Heartlink Blog.


Your tax-deductible donation encourages many
who have been greatly discouraged! Your financial gifts and support are used to maintain this ministry.

For your convenience, you may donate online here:




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