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Why is John's Gospel different from the other three?

Why is John’s gospel so different from the other three?

It’s true. John is very different from

Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

In fact so different that Matthew, Mark, and Luke

have their own name. The synoptic gospels.

Meaning they're very similar

and then John’s way over here.

If you think about it, the real question is

why would any of the gospels be that similar?

When you take four different people who’ve experienced the same things

but you say, go and write your best interpretation

of your own experience of your life with Jesus

or of the experiences of others that you’ve interviewed

you’re going to get very different perspectives

and different stories told.

Why are Matthew, Mark, and Luke very much the same?

Well, it makes sense

most scholars believe Mark wrote first

and he, probably, was writing on behalf of the apostle Peter.

The early church fathers believed the Mark’s gospel

is really the remembrance of Peter.

And then Matthew says, well I’m going also

record what I remember of Jesus

but first I'm going to consult Mark’s gospel.

I'm going to see, what did he write about?

And there’s some stories that Mark told that are really well told

and I’m just going to start with those as a basis

and I’m going to either adjust

or change, or just take them almost word for word.

And then there’s some things Mark didn’t record

He didn’t say anything about the birth of Jesus

and I remember the story of the Magi coming

so I’m going to include that.

Matthew then tells more than Mark.

Then Luke comes along.

He’s one generation later.

He wasn’t one of the disciples.

He doesn’t have his own memories of Jesus

but he says I’m going to begin to interview

the living eye witnesses

who were disciples.

Who were converts.

Who met Jesus. The mother of Jesus

and after I do these interviews

and including in my research

I’m not just going to interview live people

I’m going to say, what documents are already existing

about the life of Jesus. That’s just good research.

So now Luke looks at Matthew and Mark

and says I’m going to take a lot of the material from them

plus any other material that I can get anywhere else.

So there’s a lot of similarity but then Luke also includes

new material. Like he says, wait a second

in the birth narrative of Matthew, he didn’t mention the shepherds.

I remember talking to Mary about when the shepherds came.

I’m going to include that story.

And so they’re very similar

and yet they also have their own contributions to make.

Then lastly, a decade or two later

John comes along and says

I’m going to write my reminiscence of Jesus

I was very close to him

and I’m not going to borrow from the others

I’m going to make this exceedingly personal.

Also John is a very reflective, philosophical person.

So, in his old age John thinks back and says

What was the meaning of Christ’s coming?

I’m going to tell his story but from a different angle.

People do that all the time.

And so John tells his story of his own

experience of Jesus, his own understanding of Jesus

from his point of view

and it reflects a lot of his character

reflects a lot of his approach

very philosophical. Very theologically rich

but that doesn’t make it any less true or any less accurate.

It is a person’s perspective on Christ.

In fact the vary last verse of John’s gospel

he writes this

he says Jesus did many other things as well

if every one of them were written down

I suppose that even the whole world

would not have room enough for the books

that would have been written about him.

So John says

there’s so much to the life of Christ

every one of us who has written about him

has had to play the role of editor.

What are we going to tell? What are we not going to tell?

And there’s a wealth of information out there we can draw from

John chose his.

You know, John also is very similar

to Matthew, Mark, and Luke on the most important parts

and it’s that cohesion that makes these have the

smell of history to them.

Who Jesus was, how Jesus treated

both sinners and challenged the religious establishment.

His death and his resurrection

are all recorded in the gospels

the cohere together. They give us multiple views

on the same historical person

and they work together in tandem.

I mean, it really raises the question though

why would God even trust his revelation of his

perfect son. The word made flesh

in the hands of very flawed people?

Why allow sinners? People who makes mistakes?

People who are fragile and frail, be the ones to record

preserve and then proclaim his message?

Why not do it all himself?

He’d do a much better job, wouldn’t he?

But then, that’s another question.