Recently, while doing a simple Bible search, I discovered something in the life of Jesus that brought me to a full stop. It stunned me, and I’m still trying to process it. Here’s the background to it:
There is very little from the life of Jesus that is recorded in all four Gospels. The reason for that is because John wrote his Gospel around 30 years after the others, and knowing what Matthew, Mark, and Luke had recorded, John wasn’t trying to be repetitive. He was writing to be complementary. For that reason, there is very little in John that is present in the other three Gospels.
Here’s what the Gospels have in common: All of them record four stories and three predictions. The four stories they all mention are the baptism of Christ, the feeding of the five thousand, the triumphal entry, and the passion of Christ (crucifixion/resurrection). All four Gospels record three predictions: Jesus predicted His betrayal, Peter’s denial, and His passion.
But there is no teaching of Christ contained in all four Gospels.
With one exception.
Only one verse of teaching is to be found in all four Gospels. As I continue, see if you can guess it.
Let me introduce the verse by asking a question. If you were directing the biblical writings, and wanted to emphasis one teaching of Jesus’ by placing it in all four Gospels, which teaching would you choose?
Clearly, if there’s only one teaching of Jesus’ to be found in all four Gospels, then it must be of paramount importance to Him.
Furthermore, this teaching is present in six places in the Gospels. Matthew records it twice, Mark once, Luke twice, and John once. When you study the context of these six mentions, you realize they are pointing to four distinct events:
•On His third tour of Galilee (Mat. 10:39)
•After his visit to Caesarea Philippi (Mat. 16:25; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24)
•On his final journey to Jerusalem (Luke 17:33)
•During his final week in Jerusalem (John 12:25)
So there are two unique characteristics about the teaching of Jesus to which we are pointing:
1. It is the only teaching of Christ mentioned in all four Gospels.
2. It is the only teaching of Christ that we know He gave on four different occasions.
Now, beyond any doubt, Jesus would have repeated His primary teachings throughout the 3.5 years of His ministry on earth. But in terms of the record we have in our hands, there is only one teaching of Jesus’ that we’re told He gave on four different occasions. It must have been His most common teaching.
Do I have your curiosity up? Want to know what the teaching was?
Find your life, you’ll lose it; lose your life, you’ll find it. John’s wording is slightly different, but it’s the same teaching: Love your life, you’ll lose; hate your life, you’ll keep it. (The references are listed above.)
Hear it! Lose your life. Hate your life. This was the foremost and most-repeated word of our Master.
When this teaching gets on your screen, you’ll start to see relevant applications everywhere. Little wonder that the context in which Jesus delivered this teaching was different in each of the four events listed above. That’s because it’s a message that relates to virtually every area of life.
If this was the most common teaching of Jesus, it leaves me with this question: To what degree is this word likewise upon my tongue?