“Fine Woven Linen, and Blue, Purple, and Scarlet Thread”

“…ten curtains of fine woven linen and blue, purple, and scarlet thread,” Exodus 26:1.

“blue, purple, scarlet thread, and fine woven linen, Exodus 36:37 NKJV.

Though we’ve mentioned these items in other posts, we want to look at just them in this post.  The linen was the main item out of which the tabernacle was constructed, but it was embroidered with thread of these three colors.

Now, what do, or could, these four items suggest when it comes to the study of the Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the tabernacle speaks in type and shadow?

Linen, blue, purple, scarlet?

With just a couple of exceptions in Paul’s writings, where do we find information about the Lord and His life in Scripture?

Is it not in the four gospels:  Matthew, Mark, Luke and John?

Why four?  Why not five, or ten or fifteen?

Because that’s what God wanted.

What is especially interesting about these four men is that each and every one of them was absolutely unqualified to write about the life of Christ.

God used them anyway….

Matthew, though Jewish himself, was a tax-collector for the hated Romans.  Jews would have considered him a traitor.  Yet God used him to write of their Messiah-King, who would deliver them from a far worse bondage than Rome.

Mark, that one who left Paul and Barnabas and their endeavors to go back home, was used by God to write of the Servant-Son, who finished what He started.

Luke, educated, polished, likely the “best” of the lot, humanly speaking, but, still, a Gentile:  with no part in the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world, Ephesians 2:12.  Nevertheless, God used him to know and to write about the Ideal, the Perfect Man, sent not only to Israel, but to gather His sheep out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, Revelation 5:9.

John, a rough-and-tumble fisherman, using simple grammar to tell his story.  Beginning students in Greek use his Gospel in their first attempts at translation.  Simple words, uncomplicated grammar, expressing truths which 2000 years of study have not yet begun to fathom.

If we adapt Pilate’s exclamation about the Lord Jesus to that hostile crowd prior to our Lord’s crucifixion (John 19:5), we might come up with the following:

Matthew:  “Behold the Sovereign!”  He wrote to the Jews of their Messiah, their King.

Mark:   “Behold the Servant!”  To the Roman mind, which looked down on servants and serving, he wrote of Jesus, “the Servant of Jehovah.”

Luke:  “Behold the Sympathetic!”  He addressed the Greek viewpoint, present Jesus as Ideal Man.  As such, his is the “human interest” Gospel.

John:  “Behold the Son!”  John wrote to Christians, to declare and defend “God manifest in the flesh.”  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and, [literally] God was the Word, emphasizing the deity of our Lord.

Boiling the distinctives of each Gospel down to one word:

Matthew is the Gospel of Christ’s Authority.  Cf. 7:24-29, especially v. 29; 28:18.

Mark is the Gospel of Christ’s Activity.  He records only one instance of teaching and four parables, but eighteen miracles.

Luke is the Gospel of Christ’s Availability.  Though there were times when Jesus withdrew from the crowds, yet, through Luke, He brings “good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people,” 2:10.

John is the Gospel of Christ’s Antiquity.  The prologue, 1:1-18, isn’t the only place where John states the eternal dignity and existence of the Word.  He quotes Jesus Himself as doing so.  In 8:58, Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”
Unbelievers today may deny that Jesus ever claimed to be God, but those Jews who heard Him make that statement knew exactly what He was claiming.  That’s why they tried to kill Him on the spot – and that fact that He was telling the truth was why they couldn’t.
Ultimately, that’s why Jesus was crucified.  In the so-called “trials” of Him, all four of the Gospels record that the scribes and Pharisees, the leaders of the people, recognized what Jesus claimed:  Matthew 26:63-65; Mark 14:60-62; Luke 22:66-71; John 19:7.   And, apparently, one of the few at that gruesome and bloody scene who recognized the truth about Jesus was the Roman centurion, a pagan, who exclaimed, “Truly, this Man was the Son of God!” Mark 15:39.  The other notable witness was the thief who was converted at pretty much the last minute, Luke 23:42.

_______________

Four men.

Unlikely men.

God used them.

God can use us.

Linen.  Blue.  Purple.  Scarlet.

Four colors.

Four Gospels.

One message.

One Savior.

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved,” Acts 16:31.

The Four Gospels

This is a general overview of the Gospels.

As we read through the Old Testament, we see abundant evidence of the rebellion of men in general and Israel in particular, along with many promises and foreshadowings of a coming Redeemer, like bright stars against a midnight sky.

The New Testament is the story of that Redeemer.

Two questions might be asked: “Why do we have the Gospels?” and, “Why are there four Gospels?”

We have the Gospels because without them we would have virtually no record of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus.  It is necessary that we have some such account in order to validate His teaching.  The Gospels provide the DEMONSTRATION of Who He was, in order that we might better pay attention to the DECLARATION of what He said, both during His life and in the later NT writings, including Paul’s, for all those are much His words as what He spoke while in Israel.  We include Paul, because some charge him with taking the Jewish Jesus and turning Him into something that was never meant to be.

A second reason we have the Gospels is to impress upon our minds the truth that Christianity revolves around, is founded and rests upon, and proclaims Jesus Christ Himself, and not just certain historical facts, doctrinal viewpoints or important “leaders” in the church.

There are several reasons why we have four Gospels.  Mainly, we have them because it is God’s will, but there are secondary reasons.

1. To give a more complete and satisfying portrait of the Lord Jesus.  Each Gospel has its own distinctive presentation of the life and work of Christ.

2. Each Gospel was written with a specific audience and purpose in mind.  No matter where a son or daughter of Adam finds themselves, they will never come to God on God’s terms to find that God cannot or will not help them.

We want to spend just a moment considering the men who wrote the Gospels and the unlikeliness of  any of them ever writing words from God.

Matthew, the publican, the tax-gatherer, the traitor to his own people, in league with their oppressors the Romans, yet was used to write to those same Jews of their great Messiah-King,Who would ultimately deliver them, not from the hated Roman, but from a far greater oppression and bondage – sin.

Mark, that one who deserted his fellowlaborers Paul and Barnabas, going back from service to God to the easier life at home, yet was destined to write the Gospel of the Servant-Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Luke, probably the “best” of the lot, humanly speaking, educated, polished, but, for all that, a Gentile, hence a stranger “from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world,” Ephesians 2:12, yet brought to know and write about that God, in the person of the Lord Jesus, presented by Luke as ideal, perfect Man, sent not merely to the house of Israel, but to gather His sheep out of every kindred, nation, tongue and tribe.

John, an uneducated, rough fisherman, his Gospel in the original language is by far the simplest grammatically, insomuch that beginning Greek students translate its verses in their first translation attempts; simple words, uncomplicated grammar, expressing thoughts that 2000 years of church study and wisdom have not begun to fathom.

As we noted above, each Gospel presents a different view of the Lord.  Adapting Pilate’s exclamation to the crowd prior to the Crucifixion (John 19:5), we might summarize each Gospel like this:

Matthew:  Behold the Sovereign!  Matthew wrote to Jewish readers of their Messiah, their King.

Mark:  Behold the Servant!  Mark wrote for the Roman mind, picturing Jesus as “the Servant of Jehovah”.

Luke:  Behold the Sympathetic!  Luke addressed the Greek mind, portraying Jesus as the Ideal Man.  As such, Luke is the “human interest” Gospel.

John:  Behold the Son!  John wrote to Christians, to declare and to defend the truth of Jesus as “God manifest in the flesh”.

The distinctives of each Gospel:

Matthew is the Gospel of Christ’s AUTHORITY.  Cf. 7:24-29, especially v. 29; 28:18

Mark is the Gospel of Christ’s ACTIVITY.  Mark records only one discourse and four parables, but eighteen miracles.

Luke is the Gospel of Christ’s AVAILABILITY.  Though there times of withdrawal in the Lord’s life, yet through Luke, He brings “good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people,” 2:10.

John is the Gospel of Christ’s ANTIQUITY.  Not only in the prologue does John refer to the eternal dignity and existence of Jesus as The Word, but Jesus Himself does so: John 8:58, “Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly,  I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM’.”  Skeptics today may deny that Jesus ever claimed to be God, but the Jews who heard Him make this statement knew that that was exactly what He was claiming.  That’s why they tried to kill Him on the spot.