Did it ever occur to you to wonder why Jesus didn’t write his own book? Why do have Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John as the four Gospels, but no Gospel According to Jesus? And have you ever noticed how little Jesus had to say? He was a man of few words for the most part, though he did sometimes wax eloquent for, say, five minutes. Let me show you something really curious about the gospel accounts of Jesus speeches. Mark, in his gospel account, passes over all the early years of Jesus’ life very quickly and comes to the actual beginning of Jesus’ work. Jesus calls his disciples, and then we have this:
And they went into Capernaum; and immediately on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught. And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes.
Then he heals a man in the synagogue and Jesus and his disciples leave the synagogue. What is wrong with this picture? Well, I for one, would give a lot to know what Jesus said in that synagogue. Mark says they were
astonished at his doctrine. Mark doesn’t, however, see fit to tell us what the doctrine was! To a 20th-century reader, this is a remarkable oversight. He taught doctrine. He taught with authority. His listeners were astonished. Please, please, tell us what he said! But no, Mark doesn’t think it is important. Here I am, concerned about the intellectual content of Jesus’ teaching, while Mark is far more concerned with what Jesus actually did and the message contained in what he did. But if I want the intellectual content of Jesus’ message—what did Jesus actually say, what did he teach—how am I going to find it?