No matter how you gather the essentials of the Christian faith, the resurrection of Jesus is on that list. Many scholars have written many pages on this topic, in no small part because the biblical authors give it such weight and importance.
Peter speaks about the resurrection prominently in his first sermon (Acts 2:24, 31–32). Paul writes that the resurrection “declared” that Jesus was the Son of God (Romans 1:4). Later in that same letter, we read that our justification is tied to Jesus’s resurrection (Romans 4:25) and that Jesus’s new life gives us newness of life (Romans 6:4). Paul considered the resurrection a central belief needed for salvation (Romans 10:9), so much so that if Jesus had not been raised from the dead, our faith is futile (1 Corinthians 15:17–19). Jesus is the “firstborn from the dead,” so those who believe in him will follow him in bodily resurrection (Colossians 1:18).
But what about the writers of the Gospels? These men who wrote first-hand accounts of the life of Jesus—what did they think of his resurrection? What did Jesus’s resurrection say about his work and his identity, and what did it mean for his followers?
Let the Gospel Writers Speak
Over the next six weeks, we’ll try to answer these questions here at Knowable Word. Peter and I (Ryan) will each be looking at two of the Gospel accounts of the resurrection and trying to understand the authors’ intentions.
We have published a series like this in the past on the feeding of the 5000. In that series, Peter discussed the themes of each Gospel before placing the feeding of the 5000 within the structure of each book. We will be referring back to those posts in this series on the resurrection, so I’ve collected links to them here for your reference: The Feeding of the 5000 according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Peter also wrote a summary article to tie that series together.
Because the resurrection of Jesus is essential to the gospel message, some Christians are eager to see the different accounts of this event reconciled. They want one, definitive story—a narrative timeline that weaves together the details offered by each of the original writers. This is called a harmonization of the Gospels.
While there is a place for understanding the chronology of this historical event, a harmonization is not what we are attempting. In fact, we are attempting just the opposite.
Each Gospel author wrote at a specific time to specific people for a specific purpose. Divinely inspired, these men made choices about what details and events and conversations to include and exclude. They aimed to persuade and teach their audience something specific about Jesus, but the Gospels are all different. This is one reason God has preserved four distinct Gospels for 2000 years; the context in which each author lived and into which each author wrote makes each perspective unique and important. We hear slightly different messages about Jesus in each Gospel. In our series, we hope to connect each author’s account of the resurrection with his purpose in writing his book.
How to Prepare
We hope you’ll enjoy this series, and as you find it valuable we hope you’ll share it with your friends at church and around the internet. We plan to model good Bible study practices and focus our attention on Jesus.
You can prepare for our future articles by reading and studying the relevant passages: Matthew 28:1–10, Mark 16:1–8, Luke 24:1–12, and John 20:1–18. As you read, consider what the writer was intending to communicate through his account of the resurrection. That intention will likely align with the writer’s purpose in writing his Gospel.
Finally, here’s one note regarding observation. Technically, none of the Gospel authors wrote an account of the resurrection. That miracle happened behind the stone, inside the tomb. The Gospels record the discovery of the resurrection!
Over the next six weeks, let’s read the text carefully and discover why Jesus rose from the dead.