I listened to chapter one, via audio book, of The Case For Christ this morning. In it, I gained some deeper insight into the Gospels’ origins as well as have a bit more of a fresh perspective on the eye witness testimony of its authors. What makes these particular accounts of eye witness testimony so important? The best answer for this is to examine what good eye witness testimony entails.
A truly good or pure witness that would be ideal in and outside of a court room should be a follows:
- Have No Ulterior Motives
- Be Honest
- Be Fair
When we put Jesus Christ on trial, in terms of his validity…. who can be such eyewitnesses for Him? The answer, lies within the very source of the Gospels themselves.
Who wrote the Gospels?
Matthew – Matthew was composed by the Tax Collector, Levi, who became a disciple of Christ and was known as Matthew.
Mark – Mark was composed by John Mark, cousin of Barnabas (a prominent figure in the early church), who traveled with as a friend and possibly an apostle of Peter.
Colossians 4:10-14New International Version (NIV)
10 My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.) 11 Jesus, who is called Justus, also sends greetings. These are the only Jews[a] among my co-workers for the kingdom of God, and they have proved a comfort to me. 12 Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. 13 I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis.14 Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings.
Philemon 20-24New International Version (NIV)
20 I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ. 21 Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I ask. 22 And one thing more: Prepare a guest room for me, because I hope to be restored to you in answer to your prayers.23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you greetings. 24 And so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke, my fellow workers.
Luke – Luke was the beloved physician. He also is an apostle who traveled with the apostle Paul. Luke is also accredited to be the author of the book of Acts.
John – John was one of the twelve disciples who were called to follow Jesus. He was also one of Jesus’ closest to him. He, James, and Peter, made up His inner three to whom Jesus seemed to be the closest. His journey with Christ began when Jesus called fishermen away from their boats, John was called away with his brother James to follow Jesus. He is accredited the authorship of the Gospel of John, and also various other New Testament books such as I John, II John, III John, and Revelation.
Notice, two of these four Gospels were written by two of Jesus’ disciples, the other two, by outside sources.
What is the importance of that? Look again at our description of a good eyewitness.
Unbiased – Matthew’s incorporation of parts of Mark’s Gospel reveals a very unbiased perspective, as though Mark was an outsider who did not observe the life, ministry, execution, or resurrection of Christ… Mark’s Gospel is one that is also believed to be a handwritten account of Peter’s eyewitness account of such events. So one could say it is both direct and indirectly related to Christ.
Absence of Ulterior Motive – Matthew’s very Gospel incorporated parts of the Gospel of Mark, who was not a physical eyewitness to Jesus’ ministry. If Matthew had had motives such as to gain people’s favor, he would likely not have used an outside source. So much of things that were spoken, written, let alone taught needed to have several testimonies from eyewitnesses so that the truth would not be put in question. No fame or profit really can be attested as a possible ulterior motive, as it simply could not exist given the unlikely sources that wrote it.
Integrity – Unlikely characters wrote the Gospels. Two of them, Mark and Luke, were outside sources.
Matthew, while he was a disciple of Jesus, he had once been a tax collector and likely was not very much loved by a number of people in his community. It is possible that aside from the betrayer, Jesus Iscariot, he would be the most loathed of the disciples due to his infamous former reputation as a tax collector. Imagine, if we were to put him in modern day shoes, who would he be?
The loan shark…
The con artist…
Talk about a vivid and perhaps not too pleasant picture huh?