I memorized my first Bible verse at the age of eight, snuggled into my Powerpuff Girls comforter, looking for deliverance from the shadows and monsters of the night. It was Psalm 4:8, “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety” (NIV). Twenty years later, the monsters in the night look very different, but I still find myself in need of the peace and reassurance only He can bring. These days, I’ve been finding such encouragement in reading through the gospels again, learning about Jesus’ life from the four different angles of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. I’m memorizing and holding on to the truth that God is with me always, as it says in Matthew 28:20 —
And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
Matthew 28:20b (CSB)
To accept the promise that Jesus is with me is to believe that He is guiding me through each day, each moment, each pleasant surprise and bitter disappointment. When I look at the gospels, I discover the character of Jesus — someone who was deeply invested in the lives of real, messy, complicated people. Whether you’re getting to know Jesus for the first time or have walked with Him for years, you’ll find renewal and strength as you get to know Jesus in the gospels.
Matthew, the first book in the gospels, was written by the apostle of the same name. While this book takes a strongly Jewish perspective, you’ll discover throughout its pages the life story of Jesus, following Him from birth to resurrection. He is the Messiah who fulfills the promises of the Old Testament. Matthew’s emphasis on Jesus as the Messiah reminds us through eye-witness accounts that Jesus lived as a human here on earth, caring for and serving those around Him. The same empathetic and compassionate Jesus present in this book is the Jesus who wants to be there for you. As Matthew 11:28-30 says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (NIV).
Mark, written by John Mark, varies from Matthew in that it focuses more on Jesus as the Son of God. Reading through this gospel and relating to Jesus as both human and divine will inspire worship, awe, and a renewed faith in Him. As Jesus announces in Mark 1:15, “The time has come . . . the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” Throughout the pages of this book, you’ll encounter the good news over and over again. You’ll discover Jesus as someone who experienced emotion, hunger, and trials. You’ll also find Jesus’ explanation of His divinity, including His rejection, suffering, death, and resurrection (see 8:31).
Luke, the longest book in the New Testament, was written by a doctor named Luke, a friend and coworker of the Apostle Paul. This book is designed to strengthen the faith of believers by recalling the events of Jesus’ life in extreme detail. You’ll discover a Jesus who fulfills the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor (Luke 4:18-19). You’ll also learn more about the Holy Spirit in this gospel, which is a reassuring reminder that if you believe in God and have invited Him into your heart, you have the Holy Spirit dwelling within you and guiding you throughout the moments of your life. Not only is Jesus with you, but the entirety of the Trinity — the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — are guiding, directing, and supporting you in every season.
John, the last book of the gospels, was written by “the disciple Jesus loved” (see 13:23). This gospel varies from Matthew, Mark, and Luke in that its primary purpose is to reach unbelievers with the good news of Jesus. If you are investigating Christianity for the first time, are a new believer, or want to get back to basics, this is the book for you. John 3:16-17 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (NIV). John will give you an in-depth picture of the life of Jesus and lay out His eternal sacrifice on the cross for your sins.
No matter what book of the gospels you read, you’ll encounter Jesus as your guide, your ally, and your salvation. And as you discover Him more deeply, you’ll find that Jesus really is who He says He is — the God who loves you and who is with you “always, to the end of the age.”
Ellen Wildman, product manager over Bibles and Bible Resources at DaySpring
DaySpring’s Illustrating Bibles are specifically designed to inspire the Bible journaler’s heart. In this new NIV Illustrating Bible: The Gospels, you’ll meditate on God’s Word as you journal your way through New Testament books Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. It’s the perfect way to explore your creativity, express your faith and engage Scripture as you focus on the unconditional love and faithfulness of God through Jesus.
Spend time decorating and personalizing the pages of God’s Word or add your own flair by including your Bible study or sermon notes, reminders, worship songs, or your favorite Bible verses. The durable fabric cover and metallic copper spiral binding make it easy to create as it lies perfectly flat for your artistic needs and it grows with all your journal entries.
The NIV Illustrating Bible: The Gospels releases on August 3 and is currently available for pre-order on Amazon. . .
. . . and we’re giving away THREE of them*!
To enter, leave a comment telling us what a particular gospel has meant to you, and we’ll choose three winners.
Sandra Sasser says
I love John…so rich in his friendship with Jesus and so God to remind of of HIS love for each of us. Good for all of us “seasoned” Christians and wonderful to leaf new Christians into a greater understanding of who Jesus was/is/can be in their lives.
I grew up going to church, but never reading the bible. I would love to learn more and strengthen my relationship with God.
I love the book of John. The way the John writes and describes things, I just see so much creative thinking with the words he uses, It’s so beautiful!
I worked in long term care, and once was talking with an elder who said that her apartment [in Heaven] wasn’t ready yet, but when it was God would call her home. I thought that was an interesting way to think about what happens to us when we die, but then went on my merry way. Fast forward 20 years, I was bed bound with a back issue feeling sorry for myself, and started flipping through a Bible for the first time. Came across John 14:1-3 where Jesus says “in my Father’s house are many rooms… I am going away to prepare a place for you….I will come again and take you…” and it was a lightbulb going off in my head.
I love all the Gospels and am especially intrigued by how they are each written with a different perspective and focus. This is a fairly new realization for me and it’s fascinating. I love John for the heart and Luke for the details.
this is so amazing… breaking down the Gospels of who wrote them and the over all ‘way/purpose’ of writing the Bible.. (of course proclaiming that Jesus is Lord and Savior is first)… I believe I have always favored John… “and The Word, became flesh and dwelt among us” To KNOW that Jesus became one of us is amazing to me… He knows and understands and has experienced EVERY single thing I go through.. and loves ME still…….. thank you Jesus
I have studied John in depth in a previous Bible study. I’m not sure I have studied the others in depth, although I am getting ready to start a deep dive on Matthew in our Bible study starting in September. Thank you for another opportunity to win. I enjoy all the resources you provide.
Dear (in)courage team, this seems like a lovely new way to study the Bible! And it would make a lovely gift for someone who’s exploring God’s Word for the first time or for the umpteenth time.
You ladies rock!
Luke. The emphasis on the quote from Isaiah that lays out the mission of Jesus has always stirred me, encouraged me, motivated me, focused me on what’s important.
Kimberly Brown says
I like Luke for the detailed information of Jesus and his relationships with people.
I led a bible study through John this past year, and even though the book was mostly long-time Christians, it was great to see how there was always something new we could take away from these familiar stories.
Kathy McKinsey says
Forty-some years ago, when I was struggling with whether or not I believed in Jesus, I was advised to read the book of John. It is my favorite book of the bible to this day.:)
Kristi Cunningham says
John is the gospel I love the most! God’s love is so beautifully displayed through Jesus in this book♥️
I love the Gospels! John, is one of my favorites and contains one of my favorite verses… “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy but I (Jesus) have come to give you life and life to the full!” -John 10:10.
I would love a copy of this Bible! ❤️
Tammy Ervin says
My favorite gospel is Matthew. I always loved reading Matthew at Christmas for our church play. All of our Sunday school kids would start coming down the aisle dressed as shephards, angels, and the three wise men while I was reading from Matthew the birth of our Messiah Jesus Christ. Those are precious moments ✨
I love tgat each of these are written from their view of who Jesus is to them as they wrote. Just as God-Jesus-Holy Spirit each move but are 1. The Gospel is the same each moving,each telling but one. I am going to say right now Luke. Luke is my choice because I need all 3 God-Jesus & The Holy Spirit Luke shares & tells of this & so much more. Just like it is how they know Jesus & write of him. Is just as so for us & choosing today. God made it so that we may have what we need for right now! Glory to GodHallelujah
I love love love John 3:16 because it says “who so ever.” There is no other requirement. No dress up clothes, no membership, no passing of litmus tests according to skin tone or education levels, no worries about being cancelled or meeting of any and all requirements. Just a plain ‘ol deciding to be a “whosoever.” And then just believe that being a “whosoever” is enough not only to get you in the door but live forever with the one who saved you?!! Who could ask for anything better. What a friend we have in Jesus!!!! If we know nothing else we know who Jesus is and that His word is true. Just by those two verses.
Reading through Luke with a focus on “wonder” gave Jesus’s life fresh meaning and excitement for me, especially the first two chapters covering His birth story. Sometimes, the gospel stories become so familiar that we forget how miraculous they really are. Seeing God work in such loving and powerful ways through each person’s life led me to write my first devotional for the Advent season, sharing what I had found when I looked at the book of Luke with eyes of wonder.
Book of John.
Jesus our God came to save us from sin through the humiliation of the CROSS. He defeats death and sin forever.
Jesus resurrection gives strong evidence to convince all of us who are willing to believe and live by faith in Jesus.
Forever i worship the risen Lord and prepare for His return by feeding His sheep.. Hallelujah..
We are studying Luke in Sunday School, and it has been been interesting to read the detail and unique perspective that Luke brought when he wrote this book. All of the gospels are wonderful because they tell us about Jesus, but for this time, Luke has become my favorite. Blessings on your ministry.
Cindy Leonard says
I am am very grateful for your detailed description of the four Gospels. I am a Christian and I do often find it hard to know which Gospel to go to for certain things I’m going through. My husband, Gary is a wavering Christian who would deeply benefit from these insights. I think I’ll print the out for him as a reference. Perhaps he and I can do a study together on one of them. I think I would chose Matthew because it most completely portray’s Jesus and we are also watching The Chosen which he is enjoying and prayerfully learning from. Although being a Holy Spirit directed Christian …or trying to be I love the Book of John too. I am interested in your Bible as the description says it has space to write in and I very much benefit from that. Most Bibles barely have room for “dating” Scripture in the margins and I often forget what happened on that “date”. Having a place for journaling and noting would be very meaningful.
Cindy Leonard says
Ok so much for my “paying attention” it’s late at night for me. I like the Book of Luke for the more in depth on the Holy Spirit.
Beth Williams says
I enjoy all three gospels. Each one written with a different perspective. Love getting a Jewish perspective of Jesus, His life & how He fulfills Old testament prophecy. Also important to see Jesus as son of God. Learn to revere & worship Him. I find it fascinating that a doctor-a friend of Apostles would pen a gospel. What I like most in Luke are the parables he puts in. They help one to really know Jesus. John, the disciple Jesus loved, points unbelievers to Christ. Each writer has a different slant on Jesus’s life & ministry. My favorite is Luke.
All the Gospels are incredible in different ways but I have to say that John is my favorite followed by Luke. In John’s book it reads as written by someone who not only met Jesus and wrote of him, but as one whose life was entirely transformed and never the same, who loved deeply and felt loved. It makes me feel as though the closeness Jesus speaks of is available and waiting when I mess up as humans often do. It just gives me such a blessed feeling, knowing there is nothing I can ever do to separate from God. The book of John helps me remember WHOSE I AM.
Donna Dwyer says
I love all the gospels, but John and Luke are my two favorites and I’m having trouble picking a favorite of those two. Luke always feels like a friend telling me stories of Jesus and John holds a special place, because it was the first book I read after being saved at 35 after having no real church background at all. I had tried reading the bible before, but it never seemed to make sense. After being told the gospel and accepting Jesus, I sat down to read part of John and it no longer seemed like it was written in a “foreign language” but read like a story!
Kristin Anne Smith says
My favorite story is in Matthew and the story of the woman with the issue of blood. In the gospel of Matthew Jesus calls the woman “daughter”. Not woman or girl, but daughter. That has always felt so tender to me. It is one of my favorite stories in the Bible.