Preaching Easter (Pt3): Harmonization and the Gospels

Whenever we preach from the gospels we need to be aware that there may be up to four accounts of the story before us. In the past a great deal of emphasis was placed on harmonizing the gospel accounts. That is to say, placing all four side by side and seeking to combine them in order to have the “full” story. There is certainly a place for this practice, but how much of this should we concern ourselves with as preachers?

There are many elements in the Gospels that only appear in one gospel. In this case the issue of harmonization is largely irrelevant. But then there are events found in all of the gospels. The passion narrative, obviously, is found in all four.

Check all four gospels for accuracy in your preaching. If you are preaching from, say, Luke’s account, then it is helpful to check the other three. You wouldn’t want to undermine your preaching by telling the story in such a way that you make errors because you forgot to check the other gospels.

Preach the text rather than the event. Having checked the other gospels to make sure you are not presenting an error in your sermon, be sure to actually preach Luke’s account (or whichever you have as your preaching text). The gospel writers did not simply recount a transcript of a video taken the first Easter. They selectively chose the details to include in order to write an historically accurate theological presentation. Seek to preach the emphasis of the text you are in.

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