The Four Faces of Jesus: A Fourfold Melody (Part 4) (4-2-17)

The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.” (Psalm 119:160)

Music is an incredible art that the entire world shares. The combination of rhythmic sounds that are produced from an array of instruments and voices to create a melody, is fascinating. It is interesting when we realize that this beautiful art that is a bond tying all of the cultures of the world together, also displays this concept in the manner that it produces its wonderful sound. This can be proven in the fact that music is a product of an organized combination of different sounds, tones, and melodies in harmony with one another. Observe how the sound that does not follow the proper pitch, rhythm, or speed will always stand out and ruin the sweet sound of a melody. Instead of producing a sound that soothes the ear, it becomes a screeching noise that is painful to hear. Therefore, the message music teaches the world through exaample and action is found in the majestic melody harmony will create. This is one of several reasons why man cannot deny that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2nd Timothy 3:16a). It is also the fact that prompted David to confirm that “the entirety of Your word is truth” (Psalm 119:160a). Amazingly, these two inspired men wrote these words centuries apart from one another; yet, their words are able to acquiesce with one another exhibiting God’s Omniscient hand. For this reason, it is wise to comprehend the harmony between the Four Gospel accounts. We have already learned that each one of these books targets a different audience respectively and that they are not a biography of Jesus. Rather their purpose was, and still is, to announce to the four corners of the earth the good news of Divine salvation for all. This task was accomplished by the Holy Ghost’s chosen scribes in directing this marvelous account to the influential cultures of Jews, Romans, and Greeks. Without a doubt, each one of these cultures are very different from one another. For this reason, it is astonishing that each account written specifically for them, respectively, harmonizes so flawlessly. This knowledge becomes especially valuable when we compare the four books to each other. If this information is ignored, it will lead the student to falsely believe that there are discrepancies or even contradictions between the Gospel Writers. If this erroneous accusation were to be true, this then denies that God indeed inspired these four men who heralded His good news. Hence the value of understanding the who the book was written for and with what specific purpose. As an example, let us examine the genealogy of Jesus presented by Matthew and Luke. In Matthew’s account of the Lord’s genealogy, “Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called the Christ,” but Luke states “Jesus Himself…being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, the son of Heli” (Matthew 1:16 and Luke 3:23). Skeptics immediately point to these two passages to “prove” a discrepancy between the two Gospel accounts since two different names for Joseph’s father are presented. However, one must not forget that each genealogy presented has been done so in accordance to the audience reading the treatise. Matthew’s target audience are the Jews, whereas Luke’s target audience are the Greeks. The genealogy that Matthew presents of Jesus is His “legal genealogy” which is traced by His legal father’s lineage and not His biological one. Luke, on the other hand, presents Jesus’ “natural genealogy” which traces Mary’s lineage instead of Joseph’s. Because the purpose of both writer’s is to prove that Jesus is the prophesied Christ, each one presents the genealogy that would be best understood by their audience. The Jews would have never accepted Mary’s genealogy since a woman’s ancestry was not accepted as valid by the Sanhedrin. Therefore, Matthew presents Joseph’s genealogy since legally he had adopted Jesus as his own. Hence the reason Matthew states that Joseph was “the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus.” Since this is the legal genealogy of Jesus, it provided the necessary proof that Jesus was indeed a descendant of both David and Abraham. It proved to the Jews that Jesus’ lineage was pure and had not been mixed with that of another race. Therefore, because this is His legal genealogy, one must determine that Jacob is Joseph’s biological father. However, one must not conclude that Luke has erred in the genealogy written by him. Because Luke is directing his composition for the Greeks, he is presenting Jesus’ natural (biological) genealogy. Observe that similar to Matthew, Luke enlightens his readers by confirming that Joseph “was supposed” by all to be the father of Jesus of Nazareth. In stating this, Luke is clarifying that Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus. His intent on doing so is to insure that his readers understand that his genealogy belongs to Mary; not Joseph. Therefore, Heli would be Mary’s biological father which means that Heli was Joseph’s father-in-law. Once again, the value of understanding the period of time when these books were written sheds its light. In ancient oriental culture, the term of “father-in-law” was non-existent. For them, a person that would marry into the family was treated as a blood relative. This was the strength and extent of marital bonds among Jewish people. This is supported by Ruth’s insistence of remaining with her perished husband’s mother. Naomi sought to relieve Ruth’s tie to her since her son had died, yet Ruth responds, “Your people shall be my people, and Your God, my God” (Ruth 1:16b). Therefore, both men present the correct genealogy of Jesus and there is no contradiction as some seek to establish. Instead, it is marvelous to confirm that Jesus’ lineage traced back to David and Abraham by either parent and that they concur with one another in proving that He is the Messiah that would rise from David’s and Abraham’s lineage. Both inspired scribes also support that Mary was indeed a virgin when she conceived Jesus, since neither one acknowledges Joseph as the natural father. Harmonies, such as the one, are present in all four books. It is curious, however, that (like music) each writer uses a different instrument that contributes to the same melody of the good news. Independently, each one demonstrates a different face of Jesus with immaculate harmony, never disrupting the graceful sound of salvation. To be continued…

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