An Invitation to a Journey through the Gospels
On New Year’s Day, I started a new tradition with our family. We all gathered on the couch and reviewed our past five years by looking through the annual calendars my wife creates each year.
Each calendar features personal photos that we had taken from the previous year. We had fun seeing how much our kids had changed and grown over the past five years. Of course, there were the standard family photos from holiday gatherings and pictures from our kids’ school and sporting events.
But the photos that really stood out to us were the ones from our family trips. We were amazed by all the places we had been in the course of five years.
As we flipped through the photos, we experienced a flood of “remember when” moments:
- “Remember that time when the donkey stuck its head in the car in Custer State Park?”
- “Remember the funny songs we sang with our friends on that stagecoach ride?”
- “Remember when that buffalo came charging at our car when dad was taking a video?”
- “Remember that perfect weekend of spring skiing?”
- “Remember riding at the front of the raft when we hit those epic rapids?”
Planning for and taking trips is mostly fun. Sure, there are those times when everyone gets a bit grouchy from traveling all day. Or when your kids are in the back seat arguing with one another. And inevitably something goes wrong and you have to be flexible and adjust on the go.
Yet, when it comes to expanding our perspective and sharing experiences that draw us together, going on a journey together is hard to beat. Traveling naturally appeals to our shared sense of adventure. Maybe that’s why so many books and movies are framed around the theme of going on a journey.
The theme of journey is woven throughout the Bible. God is constantly on the move. Throughout Scripture, we see him continually inviting his people to leave what is comfortable in order to be on mission with him.
As we begin this new decade, I want to invite you along for a different kind of journey — a spiritual journey. Over the course of the next twelve weeks or so, we’ll be traversing through the Gospels together in this weekly blog series.
However, before we set out on this journey together, I want to encourage you to slightly shift how you view the Gospels.
We tend to view the Gospels as four separate accounts of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. And rightly so. While certainly there are similarities and overlap between the Gospel accounts, each one stands as distinct and independent on their own merit.
But here’s where I want you to adjust your perspective.
Rather than viewing each Gospel as a separate account, I’d like to invite you to see the four Gospels as four stages that form one seamless story with Jesus at the center.
And this continuous four-part story serves to guide us on our journey by addressing four critical questions that permeate our spiritual lives:
1. How do we face change?
2. How do we move through suffering?
3. How do we receive joy?
4. How do we mature in service?
(I am deeply indebted to Alexander Shaia, author of Heart and Mind, for the idea of the Gospels as a continuous four-stage story as well as for the foundational questions that each Gospel addresses.)
As we travel this four-part trip together, we’ll look at some key components of each Gospel that will help us understand each stage of the journey. As we travel together, we’ll look at each Gospel’s:
1 | Unique Backstory — Each Gospel was revealed to and written for a particular community dealing with a certain issue. Unpacking the distinct historical context of each Gospel will help us understand how God is speaking to us in his Word today and how to apply it to our current situation.
2 | Signature Moments — Though we won’t be able to go through each Gospel in-depth, we will highlight some key stories that will underscore the main theme and how the Gospel responds to the critical question facing its community.
3 | Distinctive Landscape – Each Gospel features a unique landscape that is particular to that stage of our journey. In Matthew, we’ll climb a great mountain as we look at how we navigate change in our lives. In Mark, we’ll cross a stormy sea as we address how we move through suffering. Next, we’ll rest in John’s glorious garden as we consider how we receive the gift of joy. Finally, we will walk Luke’s road of riches as we contemplate how we mature in service to our community.
In addition, I’ll also provide some questions for you to reflect on as well as some suggested practices to try on to help you grow spiritually as you respond to each of these key questions in your own life.
My hope is by the end of our time together, you’ll have some “Remember When” moments of your own that you’ve shared with Jesus:
- “Remember when you showed me the way when I was stumbling along?”
- “Remember how you walked alongside me that one time when I was really hurting?”
- “Remember that time that you provided exactly what I needed in a completely unexpected way?”
- “Remember when you changed my perspective on life in a way that gave me new purpose?”
I’m so honored and excited that you are joining me. And now, let the journey begin!
Grace and peace,
Next time, we’ll begin our journey by ascending Matthew’s great mountain.
As we begin the climb, we’ll address the core question: How do we face change?
AUTHORING + DESIGN CREDITS
✍️ Credit :: Matt Rhodes
📸 Credit :: Matt Rhodes
🎨 Credit :: Matt Rhodes