“…these things are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31)
John assures us with these words to trust his Gospel and we are right to apply this assurance to the other three Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). These four witnesses provide a stable foundation upon which the Holy Spirit creates and strengthens faith in Jesus Christ. One witness is sufficient; however, four witnesses have greater stability.
When was the last time that you balanced on one leg for at least ten seconds? When we strive to balance on one leg, our leg muscles contract more than normal, we use our arms to aid our balance, and core muscles are activated so that we stay upright. Having both feet on the ground is better than having one. We have watched dancers or athletes do phenomenal feats as they have perfected the use of their legs. Nevertheless, there comes a time when due to injury, health, and/or age, that balance, coordination, and stability are lacking. The use of a walking stick or cane can provide needed stability, and give us a sense of greater security.
Now to get to the concept of four: I have found myself envious as I have been on hiking trips with a dog. The ease with which the animal can scamper up, down, or alongside a hill is intimidating. Let us realize God’s wisdom in providing four appendages when the animal’s life depends on being able to scamper. Humans have four appendages, yet we are uniquely equipped. We are designed to be upright and able to engage our unique mental capacity along with our opposable thumb. These unique traits for humans serve us wonderfully as we have been entrusted to be stewards of God’s creation. “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28b).
Let us also recognize God’s wisdom as He has provided four witnesses that proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ—our life depends on this proclamation. This year for the Wednesday evening Advent Services, we will focus on each Gospel. Each Gospel writer had a unique background as he provided his inspired witness. This provides us a fuller, more secure witness than just one, although one is sufficient. Each one of us also has unique backgrounds that can further witness God’s love in Jesus Christ as we work with the truth of inspired Scripture.
Let me share a little foretaste of the unique aspects of the four witnesses. Matthew was a tax collector, a detail man, who used an apologetic technique of explaining how Jesus Christ fulfilled Old Testament prophecy. Mark, a scribe or least a friend of Peter, presents his unique witness as Peter was a leader among the disciples. Luke, a physician, was intent on providing an “orderly account” of Jesus Christ. And John, “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” provided his personal, high narrative account.
These four witnesses give us stability with their inspired truth as the Holy Spirit uses them to ignite and strengthen faith. Let us receive the words of these four witnesses as God gathers us for temporal stability and eternal peace.
The Lord be with you,
Pastor Sam Wiseman