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