A Quest for the Gospel of Jesus


Originally I was thinking of calling this study, 'A Quest for the Gospel of Jesus'. This was for two reasons.


First, we read of the Gospel According to Matthew' (or Mark, or  Luke or John) and I wondered if we could distill what Jesus had as his core message. I know studies have neen done about common source meterial to the four Gospel books (sometimes called the 'Q' source) but wasn't aware of anyone trying to pull together the message Jesus had for those seeking eternal life. Of course we read of this in The Acts of the Apostles and Epistles - but I was interested in what we can discover from Jesus own words as recorded in the four Gospels. I saw this as a quest.


Second, because over a hundred years ago Albert Schweitzer whote a controversial book called, The Quest for the historical Jesus. That was an academic study looking for the historical nature of Jesus, stripped of all the overlays and cultural contexts placed upon the Gospels. His book is still a catalyst for frequent further study today. My small contribution may not be so controversial, but I do hope it will stimulate much further study, discussion, and positive action in sharing the good news of Jesus Christ today.


Here is a seminal quote which started off my personal quest and further study. It has shaped my thinking for a very long time, and provides the jumping off point for this study and website. It was a daily devotional reading that struck me out of the blue:


An essentially biblical emphasis – all too often ignored by the church – is that Christ is Lord and Saviour of the whole of a person, or he is no saviour at all. Because Jesus insisted on seeing the person whole, one could never be sure which aspect of a person’s need he would tackle first. Here comes the paralysed man, helpless and obviously sick in body. His friends have bought him hoping for a simple cure, and Jesus talks about the forgiveness of sins. Here on the other hand comes a clear case of spiritual need, an enquirer asking how to gain eternal life, and Jesus gives him an economic answer, telling him how to give away his goods to the poor. Because ultimately Jesus cannot rest content until all of a person’s needs are fully met, it does not matter much to him where he starts on the work of salvation.


This was written by John V Taylor, from Mission as Dialogue.

(Quoted in Pray every day by Ronald Jasper. Collins '76 p 51, with 'man' changed to 'person' in the last sentence.)


On this website there are lots of quotes about the 'Quest' and what I have come to call the '360 Gospel of Jesus'. There are pages quoting Rowan Williams, Krish Kandiah and J. John, as well as a collection of extra quotes that relate to the study can be found.


Here, I want to quote two.


One is fromthe book Boston Common. This is a Salvation Army book about about their holiness tradition, and it was a delight and surprise to read on page 100:


A study of the ministry of Jesus reveveals that there is no 'one right way' of bringing people to God. Every one of his 'personal encounters' - Nicodemus, the woman of Samaria, the rich young ruler, Zacchaeus - is different from the others: 'be born again', 'worship in spirit and truth', 'sell all you have', and so forth. Thjey are not interchangeable. None is repeated. All have in view the reconciliation of a sinner with God. So also in our sanctifying experince. Again there is no 'one right way'. God suits the experience of himself to our needs and our particular personalities.


Rowan Williams, the then Archbishop of Canterbury sas been speaking about just this point. It was at the Fresh Expressions day in May 2011 called 'Changing the Landscape'. With thanks to Fresh Expressions, I have added a page to quote the main material in his talk which looks at the many and varied encounters with Jesus.


Here is the main quote as a transcript.


In my quest for the '360 gospel of Jesus' I have sought to explore all of the texts from the four given Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, so see what might be the gospel of Jesus. What were all the things he said to all the people? To refine the list and make it a manageable selection of 'Top Fifty Texts' I considered all those which could have been an answer to the question, 'what must I do to inherit eternal life?' This had been posed by two different men and Jeus gave them both an personalised different answer.


Rather than think this makes the gospel more complicated, I think it opens doors for many more people to hear the good news. When Jesus shared the words of the gospel he spoke to personal need. We need to get to know people, pray, look to the Holy Spirit and trust that we have the words of life for the people we know.