Yes, the picture of Jesus that is given to us in the Holy Scriptures, is reliable. The Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). The Holy Spirit would never inspire people to write things down that are untruthful or not in accordance with what really took place. Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as the ‘Spirit of truth’ (John 16:13).
Different accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry
There are four different accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry in the Bible: the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. All these four accounts are written from a slightly different angle. This is because the authors were people with different personalities and interests. Moreover, they wrote for different audiences. For example, Matthew wrote for Jews who had accepted Jesus as their Savior, whereas Mark’s audience were the Christians from non-Jewish peoples.
All four Gospels have their own distinctives and together they paint a picture of Jesus that teaches us that he is the promised Savior through Whom we can be reconciled to God. In the Gospel of Matthew we find a lot of teaching by Jesus, often zooming in on Old Testament texts and explaining their real meaning. The Gospel of Mark is much shorter and contains more accounts of miracles. Thus, Mark shows Jesus’ authority over demons, sickness and death; He really is the Son of God. The Gospel of Luke was written by Luke who was a medical doctor. His account is the longest of all the Gospels. Central to Luke is that Jesus came to seek and save the lost. The Gospel of John is the most distinctive one when compared to the other three. It emphasizes that Jesus was the One sent into the world by God. Characteristic is John’s emphasis on eternal life which is only found through faith in Christ.
The accounts are trustworthy
The accounts of Jesus’ life are trustworthy because they were all written within a few decades after the events took place. They were written by people who had been close to Jesus or who were informed by people who had been close to Jesus. For instance, the Gospel of John was written by the John who was one of the 12 disciples and even belonged to the inner circle of three disciples who accompanied Jesus on special occasions. Luke was probably not a direct eyewitness of Jesus’ ministry but states at the beginning of his Gospel that he has written a narrative according to what was delivered to him by eyewitnesses. It is well possible that one of his informants was Mary, Jesus’ mother, because we read of Mary “treasuring these things in her heart” (Luke 2:51). Mark was not a direct eyewitness either but in all probability informed by Peter, who was one of Jesus’ closest disciples along with the author of John’s Gospel. Interestingly enough, the Gospel of Mark writes very honestly about Peter’s weaknesses (Mark 8:31-33; 9:5-6; 14:66-72). And Matthew’s Gospel was written by Matthew, a former tax collector who became one of the twelve disciples.
The Holy Spirit inspired the authors
We can conclude that the Holy Spirit inspired the four authors to write accounts that complement each other and paint a picture of Jesus that is trustworthy. Moreover, we can be assured that all of the accounts are based on information from people who had been close to Jesus: Matthew was one of the disciples, Mark got his information from Peter who had been one of the three most intimate disciples, Luke was informed by eyewitnesses, in all probability including Jesus’ mother, and John was one of the most intimate disciples as well.