CHRIST IS RISEN! He is risen, indeed! This is the shout of the church, not just on Easter but every day. The resurrection is the lynchpin of Christianity. The apostle Paul said, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. . . . But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:17,20).
This event is so important that it is recorded in all four gospels. Have you ever read them side by side? If so, you will notice that each account has different details. But the accounts are not contradictory; they’re complementary.
Imagine there are four witnesses to a car accident and the witnesses are standing on the four corners surrounding the accident site. Will each account be identical? No. While each account will describe the same event, the details will vary based on the perspective of the corner that witness is standing on. The gospel accounts of the resurrection read in a similar fashion.
Reading the accounts side by side allows us to get a fuller picture of the events of that eternity-changing morning as well as enriches our appreciation of the fact that Jesus’ empty grave means yours will be empty too one day!
Read Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-12; and John 20:1-18.
What are the facts that each account records?
What unique detail from each account do you most appreciate?
Contradictions or complementary details?
Many critics claim that there are contradictions in the gospel accounts. Answer these common objections. (This is by no means an exhaustive list.) Potential answers are below.
Objection 1: Matthew, Mark, and Luke say they went to the tomb early in the morning at dawn while John says that it was still dark.
Objection 2: Matthew mentions two women, Mark mentions three women, Luke adds “and the others,” while John only mentions Mary Magdalene.
Objection 3: Mark, Luke, and John record that the stone was rolled away prior to mentioning the women coming to the tomb while Matthew records it after they came to the tomb.
Objection 4: Matthew and Mark mention one angel, while Luke and John mention two.
Finally, we do not believe the Bible accounts because of logical arguments but because this is God’s Word and it is truth. Jesus said, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).
Christ is risen! It’s true! And so is Jesus’ promise: “Because I live, you also will live” (John 14:19).
ANSWER KEY: Objection 1: If they were leaving from Bethany (approximately 2 miles away), perhaps John was describing the conditions when they left while the others were describing the conditions when they were arriving at the tomb. Objection 2: None of the gospel writers state that only these women went to the tomb. Objection 3: Matthew is not pinpointing when it happened but rather what had already happened. Objection 4: Matthew and Mark do not state that there was only one angel.
Author: David Scharf
Volume 108, Number 4
Issue: April 2021
- Psalm 103: When you count your blessings
- Psalm 91: When God lifts you up on his lap
- Psalm 4: When you draw nearer to the end
- Psalm 42: When you ask, “Where is God when I’m hurting?”
- Psalm 32: When you need forgiveness
- Psalm 130: When rocks fall
- Bible study: Freedom in service
- What does this mean for me? Article 6
- Bible study: Spiritual gifts
- What does this mean for me? Article 5
- What does this mean for me? Article 4
- Bible study: Rejoice in your status!
- Bible study: Baptismal blessings
- What does this mean for me? Article 3
- What does this mean for me? Article 2
- Bible study: Gifts of tongues and miraculous healing
- What does this mean for me? Article 1
- Bible study: Jesus is everyone’s Savior
- Bible study: Love one another
- Bible study: Above all things!
- Bible study: The comfort of God’s providence
- The book of James: Waiting for Christ’s return
- Bible study: Precious grace
- The book of James: Active in using prayer
- Bible study: Rewards of grace
- The book of James: Active in showing love
- The book of James: Correctly evaluating riches
- Bible study: What’s going to happen on the Last Day?
- The book of James: Avoiding loveless judging
- Bible study: Interpretation practice
- The book of James: Taming the tongue
- Bible study: The Bible’s attributes
- Bible study: The importance of the family altar
- Bible study: God’s attitude is grace
- Bible study: The Bible’s account of Easter morning
- Bible study: Different types of sin
- Bible study: God’s inspiration
- Bible study: Giving God glory
- Bible study: Judge for yourself
- The book of James: Using the Word of Truth
- Bible study: The need for the Bible and worship
- Bible study: Citizens of two kingdoms
- The book of James: Active in good works
- The book of James: When battling temptation
- Bible study: God cares
- Bible study: God made the world
- The book of James: When facing trials
- Bible study: A loving God saved people from hell
- The book of James: A blueprint for living out our life of faith
- A Bible story just for me: Guilt
- Bible study: God provides victory over death!
- A Bible story just for me: Anxiety
- Bible study: God forgives and refuses to remember our sins
- A Bible story just for me: Grief
- Bible study: God helps those who cannot help themselves
- A Bible story just for me: Depression
- Bible study: God has not grown soft on sin
- Bible study: Only one path leads to God’s presence
- A Bible story just for me: Trauma
- A Bible story just for me
- Bible study: God wants me in heaven
- Bible study: The incarnation of our Lord