Lecture 5: A Harmony of the Gospels (Part 1)

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By comparing the texts of the Gospels, we can trace the major periods, activities and teachings of Jesus' life. Matthew and Luke describe events surrounding Jesus' birth and childhood. We can trace major events in the life and ministry of Jesus by following the order of events in the Gospel of Mark. (46 min.)

A Harmony of the Gospels (Part 1)


I. An Overview of Jesus’ Life

A. Jesus’ Birth (6–4 B.C.)

B. Jesus’ Adult Ministry (A.D. 27–30 or 30-33)

1. The Passover Narratives in John

2. Jesus’ Three-Year Ministry

a. The Phase of Obscurity

b. The Phase of Popularity

c. The Phase of Rejection

II. The Birth of Jesus in Matthew and Luke

A. The fulfillment of OT prophecy

B. The Virgin Birth

C. Jesus’ Infancy

D. Jesus’ Childhood

III. The Phase of Obscurity

A. The Beginning of Jesus’ Public Ministry

1. The Starting Point in Mark & John

2. John the Baptist

B. Jesus’ Baptism

1. Baptism in Judaism

2. The Reasons for Jesus’ Baptism

C. Jesus’ Temptation

1. Common to All Three Synoptics

2. The Three Temptations

a. Turn Stones to Bread

b. Rule All Kingdoms

c. Jump from the Temple

3. The Significance of the Temptation

a. These temptations are common to all people (1 John 2:16)

b. Jesus is just like us, yet without sin (Heb 2:17-18)

c. Jesus can sympathize with our weaknesses (Heb 4:14-16)

d. We can resist temptation as well (1 Cor 10:13)

D. Events Unique to the Gospel of John

1. The Four Main Episodes

a. Turning Water into Wine (John 2:1-13)

b. Clearing the Temple (the first time) (2:13-22)

c. Jesus and Nicodemus (John 3:1-21)

d. Jesus and the Samaritan Woman (John 4:1-45)

2. A New and More Universal Salvation

IV. The Phase of Popularity

A. Introduction

B. Jesus Announces the Kingdom & Calls for Repentance (Mark 1:14-15)

1. The Kingdom as the Heart of God’s Ministry

2. The Nature of the Kingdom

3. The Nature of Repentance

C. Jesus Calls the First Disciples

D. Jesus’ Healing Ministry

1. Miracles and Mythology

2. Miracles as Testimonies of the Kingdom

E. The ‘Conflict’ Stories

1. The Healing of the Paralytic (Mark 2:1-12)

2. The Calling of Sinners (Mark 2:13-17)

3. The Sabbath Laws (Mark 3:1-6)

4. The True Family (Mark 3:31-35)

F. Jesus’ Public Ministry Challenged


Name Description
1 Understanding the New Testament - Quiz 5

This quiz covers the material in Understanding the New Testament, Lesson 5 – A Harmony of the Gospels (Part 1).


  • Why do you think it is important for believers to reflect on Jesus’s birth and childhood? Why is the Virgin Birth important? Do you think that understanding Jesus’s birth and childhood has any significance for life and ministry today? Why or why not?
  • According to Jesus’s message, what lies at the heart of God’s ministry? How might this affect the way that we understand the Gospel? How can we make this a more prominent part of our own lives and ministries?


  • Read Hebrews 4:14-16. According to this passage, why can we draw near to God’s throne with confidence? What difference might this make in our prayer and worship lives? How can this help us appreciate the importance of Jesus’s life on earth?
  • What can we learn from the controversies and challenges that surrounded Jesus’s public ministry? How can this become a source of motivation and encouragement to us in difficult times?


46 min

Other resources

Recommended Reading

Jesus and the Gospels, pp. 207-298.

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