How Should We Approach the Gospels?
The four Gospels record the eternal being, human ancestry, birth, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus the Christ, Son of God, and Son of Man. They record also a selection from the incidents of His life, and from His words and works. Taken together, they set forth, not a biography, but a Personality.
These two facts, that we have in the four Gospels a complete Personality, but not a complete biography, indicate the spirit and intent in which we should approach them. What is important is that through these narratives we should come to see and know Him whom they reveal. The twenty-nine formative years are passed over in a silence which is broken but once, and that in but twelve brief verses of Luke's Gospel. It may be well to respect the divine reticence.
But the four Gospels, though designedly incomplete as a story, are divinely perfect as a revelation. We may not through them know everything that He did, but we may know the Doer. In four great characters, each of which completes the other three, we have Jesus Christ Himself.
The Evangelists never describe Christ - they set Him forth. They tell us almost nothing of what they thought about Him, they let Him speak and act for Himself.
This is the essential respect in which these narratives differ from mere biography or portraiture. "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." The student in who dwells an un-grieved Spirit finds here the living Christ.