The first four books of the New Testament are biographical sketches of the life of Christ. While there is overlap among the books, each one has a different emphasis of the Lord’s ministry. One way I have found to remember the main purpose of each author is to entitle the book by the first three letters of the author.
MATthew = Messiah Atop Throne
Matthew presents Jesus as the long-awaited King-Messiah.
The Messiah had to be a descendant of King David. Jesus fulfilled that requirement by being born of Mary.
Though He is the King, He never lived a life of privilege and luxury.
“Say to the Daughter of Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’” (Matthew 21:5)
“Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ ‘Yes, it is as you say,’ Jesus replied.” (Matthew 27:11)
MARk = Messiah As Ransom
Mark presents Jesus as the Servant-Messiah.
Jesus didn’t come to be served, but to serve us, by dying for our sins.
Jesus paid the full ransom price for our sins when He died on the Cross.
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)
“For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I [Jesus] am among you as one who serves.” (Luke 22:27)
LUKe = Luke Unveils Kinsman
Luke presents Jesus as the Perfect Man-Messiah.
Though Jesus was God, He also was fully man.
As the Perfect Man. He can relate to everything that we face.
“Now Jesus Himself was about thirty years old when He began His ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli … the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.” (Luke 3:23- 38)
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)
JOHn = Jesus Owns Heaven
John presents Jesus as the Fully God-Messiah.
Jesus wasn’t simply a religious man who did good, but He was the Eternal God who left Heaven and entered into our world for the purpose of being our Savior.
“In the beginning was the Word [Jesus], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1,14)
Jesus said, “I am the living bread that came down from Heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” (John 6:51)
These four books are placed at the start of the New Testament to acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the greatest man who has ever lived and is the focal point of all of history. The invisible God took upon Himself human flesh that He might dwell among us. The pages of these books are filled with accounts of the Lord’s wisdom and power. But the highlight of each book is the same. This God-Man sacrificed Himself to pay for our sins. His resurrection proved His payment was sufficient. Now He offers eternal life as a gift to all who will receive Him as their personal Lord and Master. “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13)
You can download a chart with the rest of the New Testament books entitled at “Resources” here at the website.