What Are The Gospels And Why Is It Important?
After 2,000 years people are still asking what exactly are the 4 Gospels? Are they simply biographies of Jesus? Are they general religious information? What are they, and how are they to be used?
What the church does with the Gospels is good. She reads portions of them aloud each Lord's Day for all the world to hear. Many people read them at home for devotional purposes, others hear them in Christian schools, and in Scripture studies. These are all good things. But there are some things we should understand if we want to get the most out of these unique Writings that have blessed and benefitted the world like no others.
First we should understand that when the Gospels are read we are hearing Jesus himself.
It was the faith of the primitive church that wherever the Gospels are read, that the Lord is there. Here is a quote from one of the earliest (95 AD?), non-biblical, Christian writings called the Didache (4:1) "My child, remember day and night the one who speaks the word of God to you, and honor him as the Lord, for where the Lordship is spoken of, there the Lord is." And St. Ignatius of Antioch (ca 115 AD) says, "I flee to the Gospel as I flee to the flesh of Christ." (Epistle to the Philadelphians 2:2) Here, St. Ignatius of Antioch, compares the Real Presence of the Lord in the reading of the Gospels, to the Real Presence of the Lord in the Sacrament.
Secondly we should understand that the natural home of the Gospels is the church. And by church we don't mean the body politic or the membership list. But the assembly of the baptized gathered for Eucharistic worship. The very thing we do each Sunday. "This do!"
While the Gospels can (and should) be read at home and elsewhere, they make the most sense in church where Jesus is present in voice, and with his Body and Blood in Holy Communion.
Only when we realize this will we hunger and thirst for the great assembly! (Ps. 22) Only then can we bid the world and all its vaunted pleasures farewell, and devote our lives to our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. Only then will we have have the fitting awe and reverence necessary to stand in the very presence of God. Only then will be become imitators of Christ, and live out our baptism each day through our varied vocations.
And so in the words of last Sunday's gospel, "Come and see." (John 1:46) Come and see him of whom the Law of Moses and the Prophets wrote. See the One who is the Son of God, and King of Israel. There is nothing better than that!