A multiplicity of angles helps to supply the key to character. Truth and tone have a ring about them that certifies authenticity. Evidence mounts that usually settles safe opinion, and ongoing reference to sources can either confirm or disabuse our mind on any vital matter. The judicious combination of investigation, intelligence, and instinct, can usually amount to an impartial appraisal of any entity of interest to biographers. Integrity commends itself in a worthy text. Writer and reader must resolve to be honest in the search for what is credible.
Whatever Biblical scholarship may aver in its certainty or guesswork concerning New Testament origins, the sources and priority of the gospels, authorship and provenance of documents, it is clear that the evangelists and the rest of apostolic testimony give us a multifaceted presentation of the Lord Jesus Christ. Four gospels give us an insight into his person from different vantage points and an all-round survey of his ministry. From them we learn the essentials about him from succinct memoirs that pursue carefully nuanced theological aims from commonly agreed facts. The compilation of these materials does not suggest any contradiction or any inconsistency. Rather, we have a coherent account of the Lord and his earthly mission which is supplemented and explained in the epistles by some who walked with the Lord and one, Paul, who received understanding from both eyewitness tradition and special revelation. Christ’s ascended life and roles are communicated through the Revelation of St. John, his most intimate companion, who plumbed the nature, assignment, accomplishment, and aftermath of Jesus’ attitudes and acts more deeply than his fellow gospellers. John moves from the internal features of Jesus’ story to his ongoing eternal functions. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are no less profound, but work at the message of Christ’s deity, power, and purpose of rescue from external demonstrations of his authority which they relate cogently and reliably.
The evidence, endorsement, and entreaty presented to the reader of the New Testament mounts to such a degree that acceptance of the Saviour on his terms seems inevitable, yet the human heart is so perverse and resisitant that effective grace must be added to the written testimony.
But there is another powerful factor, often neglected, that conveys a sound knowledge of the person of the Lord Jesus to us, and that is the mass of cameos, hints, and descriptions of him in the Old Testament. The more it is read the more the ancient Scripture of Israel portrays Christ, until we perceive that it is a continuous witness to him who was to come. The prophecies and insights recorded from Genesis to Malachi proffer the character and credentials of the promised Redeemer. What may, on a cursory inspection, seem to be limited reference to him gradually looms so large that we begin to perceive that the Old Testament is advance and abundant information about the One sent from the Lord in due time. It is a manual on the Messiah alerting us as to what to expect and whom to look for. It is the manual of the Messiah outlining what he must do in obedience to the Father. It is the manual of salvation by the Messiah alluring us to recognize and trust him. When at last the Messiah arrives he fits the profile and purpose of the prophetic books so perfectly in a way that is astounding and thrilling to us. The term “Old” attached to the previous “Testament” does not signify redundancy, vagueness, and the fact that the writings of Israel have been superseded by those that are more recent. It is a misleading designation referring to the Former Testament that happens to be the first instalment of the revelation of Jesus Christ, and now it comes into its own, and is even more essential for its detailed description, and our identification, of the Saviour. The diversified portrayal of Jesus over so many generations and through such diverse personalities fits together as a divine masterpiece, a mosaic as it were. We see him approaching as if in a reflection, and when his advent occurs we shout in welcome, “Here he is!”
Jesus is attested to so completely and convincingly by a cloud of credible witnesses who took such careful note of him because they pinned their eternal hopes upon him. They could not afford to be deluded or wrong. Prophets and apostles staked their lives upon him and gave their lives to him. The hopes of the prophets were so high that they could not suffer to be let down. They were impelled by the word of the Lord. Apostles and eye witnesses saw their hopes fulfilled in Jesus and were not disappointed after cautious and careful observation. Jesus comes to us with the authority of God and the assurance of men. Both are bound up in the Bible the entirety of which speaks of him and can be trusted.