For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed,
a righteousness that is by faith from first to last,
just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith." (Romans 1:17 NIV)
“Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt his name together.” (Psalm 34:3 NIV)
“At every point as we read the Gospels, we need to remember that they are hero stories that exist to exalt the protagonist of the story.” –Leland and Philip Graham Ryken, note on Matthew 4:1-11 in The Literary Study Bible
The other day I was reading in the Gospel of Matthew about the temptation of Jesus. Lately, I have been reading from The Literary Study Bible. I was struck by the literary note about the Gospels, quoted above. To talk about the gospel in story language may seem like a reduction of its significance, but in reality it adds so much more texture and depth to the meaning. To read the gospels as a hero story, with Jesus being the protagonist or hero, makes my heart soar. Who doesn’t love a good hero story? Over the years culture after culture has passed down its own hero stories. And today we flock to the movie theaters to engage in the exaltation of the hero projected on the screen. How much more should we exalt Jesus?
To understand what it means to exalt someone, I researched the meaning of exalt; one nuance of the word exalt is “to bring to a position of honor” (Vine’s). As we read the accounts of Jesus’ life, passion and resurrection, we find him overcoming evil, healing the sick, and speaking with authority that rankles his antogonists, the religious leaders of the day. As we enjoy the unfolding story of triumph over evil and ultimately death, I identify with the struggle and rejoice in the victory. It gives me a renewed motive for honoring Jesus with my whole life.
In wanting to discover more about the word gospel, I came across an explanation of why Matthew, Mark, Luke and John’s biographies have become called The Gospels. The following commentary gives merit to Jesus' life as representative of a hero story, “As the Messianic rank of Jesus was proved by his words, his deeds, and his death, the narrative of the sayings, deeds, and death of Jesus Christ came to be called euangelion[the gospel]…” (from Thayer's Greek Lexicon).
What intrigues me about the narrative purpose of the gospels is the idea that through the recounting of the story, the protagonist is exalted. We not only see this as we read the Gospels, but also as we live out the gospel in our own lives.
When we tell others Jesus’ story, we are exalting Him all over again. One of the best ways to give honor to our Lord can be through telling others how he has rescued us. I pray we each will have abundant opportunities to tell the story.
"I love to tell the story
of unseen things above,
of Jesus and his glory,
of Jesus and his love.
I love to tell the story,
because I know 'tis true;
it satisfies my longings
as nothing else can do."