(This is part of a series, The focus for my thinking has been Matthew, Mark, Luke, John’s account of the Resurrection, plus Paul’s thoughts, which are recorded in the letters he wrote to young Churches. ~don)
The accounts of events surrounding the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus are NOT meant to be scholarly, detailed, well-organized displays of intellectual acumen. Nor are they intended to serve as a camera, giving accurate, precise, logical or chronological photographic accuracy one might expect from a news crew on assignment for the Six o’clock Evening News.
In studying Scripture, I feel I should deal carefully always. Therefore, I seldom dash into a matter, whip off a couple hundred words, swipe my hands and slap myself on the back and congratulate me for a completely superficial piece of drivel.
In thinking about the Resurrection, I’ve been comparing what each of the writers of the Gospels saw and said. Things were happening so suddenly and at such a dizzying pace, so much was going on! Think about it: In a matter of moments, the little band went from being broken hearted, disappointed, and defeated to deliriously, joyfully realizing an entirely new order was now in place. In one moment they were singing sad songs (almost silently) mourning their loss so they wouldn’t give away their location! The next thing you see is that frightened little group shouting gloriously, victoriously. You can almost hear them full throttle singing Handel’s Messiah and the Hallelujah chorus. As the events unfolded so suddenly and unexpectedly, I almost wondered how they didn’t strip their mental gears over such a reversal of thinking .
Hold that thought for a moment if you will.
Think of the saddest songs you ever heard. Imagine them playing in the background. All doors are locked, the lights are out and all curtains pulled, In one scene the friends and followers of Christ are weeping, forlorn, defeated, robbed of hope. In the next scene you can almost see and hear the conductor commanding baton leading with the skill and enthusiasm of an accomplished artist. The choir is full, standing, singing at the tops of their voices doing John Phillip Sousa’s “Three Cheers for the Red, White, and
At a precisely appropriate moment, someone throws a switch. The choir, conductor, the orchestra are in a spotlight. The Washington Monument is in full view with lights as the background accented wondrously by a trained team of explosives experts
Is there any wonder that the reporting of the incidents reflects their emotions of fear, surprise, excitement, and pur joy! Can’t we cut those writer a bit of slack? Come on now, they weren’t reading from an encyclopedia, preparing to write a term paper and get it in before the deadline. This is not a bunch of intellectuals preparing to deliver a lecture in Sweden, in Latin no less. They were very simple, honest people, hard-working folks who were witnesses to one of the grandest events of all time. It was an explosion of joy!
Explosive, unexpected things happened in rapid succession. Understandably, in such a situation you might get varying accounts as different writers give their own account of events they observed and recorded. I see no evidence of contradictions
If you study the Bible, there are several approaches you can take. You may read the events skeptically, trying to dissect and examine them as you dissected the first frog in your high school biology class. Put them under a microscope, take them apart, then try to make sense of all this. You can read these accounts in that way and they’ll be as dead to you as the formaldehyde soaked stinking frogs you used to study in science lab. It becomes what I call “antics with semantics;” “verbal gymnastics.” Sometimes literary critics can become so obsessed with nits, that’s all they can pick up. And in doing so, they may miss the important points entirely.
Another way you can read the Bible as it was intended. Not just a collection of data about which you could discuss and debate endlessly and purposelessly. If you aren’t a committed follower of Christ, you may at least consider it to be simple, honest accounts by simple, honest people who never changed their story. Men and women who believed what they said, tried to share the incredible “Good News,” and spent the remainder of their lives as committed to that truth on the day they died as they were when the reality of the Resurrection first burst through their grief and sorrow and unbelief.
I’m convinced that something happened there in those days that had never happened before. And only the convinced can be convincing. I can confidently repeat what the Angel told the first-comers: ‘HE IS NOT HERE. HE IS RISEN.” Just as He said he would. Now we know, so let’s go and tell others, “Tell it on the mountains and everywhere.” He’s Alive! Christ rose from the grave, just as he said he would!