Most of us are likely familiar with the parallel which has often been noted between the four Gospel Accounts and the four living creatures in the opening vision of the prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:10). The lion symbolizes supreme strength, kingship; the man, highest intelligence; the ox, lowly service; the eagle, heavenliness, mystery, divinity.
- In Matthew we see the Messiah-King (the lion).
- In Mark we see Jehovah’s Servant (the ox).
- In Luke we see the Son of Man (the man).
- In John we see the Son of God (the eagle).
It needs all four aspects to give the full truth. As Sovereign He comes to reign and rule. As servant He comes to serve and suffer. As Son of Man He comes to share and sympathize. As Son of God He comes to reveal and redeem.
Wonderful fourfold blending – sovereignty and humility; humanity and deity! Ezekiel’s vision is seen again by John (Revelation 4:6-8).
The Pulpit Commentary says,
The patristic interpretation which finds in the four living creatures the symbols of the four evangelists must be considered as the play of a devout imagination, but not as unfolding the meaning of either Ezekiel or St. John.
And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. – John 20:30-31