Eyewitnesses of His Majesty
In my studies today, I was noticing all the amazing parallels between the Gospels of Matthew and Mark. Haven't you heard the critics tell you that this "proves" that they are copy-cats? Well, I beg to differ. I've talked about this subject before in relation to some of the bigger "contradictions", but today I'd like to show you some minor ones in a short passage of Mark compared with Matthew's Gospel.
Mark 7:31-37 states, "Again, departing from the region of Tyre and Sidon, He came through the midst of the region of Decapolis to the Sea of Galilee. Then they brought to Him one who was deaf and had an impediment in his speech, and they begged Him to put His hand on him. And He took him aside from the multitude, and put His fingers in his ears, and He spat and touched his tongue. Then, looking up to heaven, He sighed, and said to him, "Ephphatha," that is, "Be opened." Immediately his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was loosed, and he spoke plainly. Then He commanded them that they should tell no one; but the more He commanded them, the more widely they proclaimed it. And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, "He has done all things well. He makes both the deaf to hear and the mute to speak."Now let's look at Matthew 15:31 -- "Jesus departed from there, skirted the Sea of Galilee, and went up on the mountain and sat down there. Then great multitudes came to Him, having with them the lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others; and they laid them down at Jesus' feet, and He healed them. So the multitude marveled when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel."
You will notice that Matthew generally states the entire story. He simply says that many people were healed, whereas Mark mentions a deaf and mute man. Now, if Matthew had merely copied Mark's Gospel (it being the first Gospel written), we would expect Matthew to stick strictly to Mark's story line. Instead, Matthew actually ADDS to Mark's account! But there is no contradiction here! Matthew mentions the mute as being one of the groups of people who were healed, and Mark veers off on the details, taking special care to reference one particular instance of a mute man being healed at that specific time. (This also proves that although Matthew may have taken some material from Mark's Gospel, he did not copy it word-for-word; he probably just used it as a reference source; he was an eyewitness, too, though not as close to Jesus as Peter was [tradition states that Mark, a disciple of Peter, wrote under Peter's dictation].)
To continue... Mark 8:1-10 says, "In those days, the multitude being very great and having nothing to eat, Jesus called His disciples to Him and said to them, 'I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their own houses, they will faint on the way; for some of them have come from afar.' Then His disciples answered Him, 'How can one satisfy these people with bread here in the wilderness?' He asked them, 'How many loaves do you have?' And they said, 'Seven.' So He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And He took the seven loaves and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples to set before them ; and they set them before the multitude. They also had a few small fish; and having blessed them, He said to set them also before them. So they ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets of leftover fragments. Now those who had eaten were about four thousand. And He sent them away, immediately got into the boat with His disciples, and came to the region of Dalmanutha."
And Matthew 15:32-39 says "Now Jesus called His disciples to Himself and said, 'I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.' Then His disciples said to Him, 'Where could we get enough bread in the wilderness to fill such a great multitude?' Jesus said to them, 'How many loaves do you have?' And they said, 'Seven, and a few little fish.' So He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And He took the seven loaves and the fish and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitude. So they all ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets full of the fragments that were left. Now those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children. And He sent away the multitude, got into the boat, and came to the region of Magdala."
Here, the overall story of the feeding of the four thousand remains the same, but Mark says Jesus went to Dalmanutha, while Matthew says that He went to Magdala. So which is it? Is it a contradiction? The KJV renders it "coasts of Magdala." Adam Clark's Commentary states, "Whitby says, 'Magdala was a city and territory beyond Jordan, on the banks of Gadara. It readied to the bridge above Jordan, which joined it to the other side of Galilee, and contained within its precincts Dalmanutha.' ... Magdala, variously pronounced, seems to have been the place or country; Dalmanutha, the chief town or capital." There is no contradiction here; it's just like when we say, "Then I went to New York," and someone else telling the same story says, "Then we went to Syracuse"; Syracuse is located within the borders of New York State, and stating "Syracuse" rather than "New York" is giving more detail as to the specific place in the region of New York. Likewise, Mark says that Jesus went to Dalmanutha, and Matthew says that Jesus went to Magdala.
I found these minor differences to be interesting; because, we hear people say all the time that the Bible is full of contradictions, especially the four Gospels. But many of these "contradictions" can be easily reconciled. And keep in mind, we've only been looking at a few small differences, so it's amazing to see how they flow together. In a court of law, if all of the witnesses were to say the same exact thing, they would be suspected of lying. Not everyone witnesses the same thing; people see different details, and together, they make the whole of the story. The Gospel writers wrote what was important to them --what they personally witnessed --and focused on who they were writing to in each of their Gospels; some focused on generalities in one place, while others focused on a specific detail in that place, and others combined generalities with details. It is just like we do today; when we tell a story, we might tell one person all the details, and then tell another person with not as much detail. And so it is with the whole of Scripture; it never contradicts itself, it says the same thing in so many different ways that it is impossible to misunderstand -- and it is possible to construct the whole of the story -- and from these different views, we can see that the people who wrote were eyewitnesses of the facts.
"For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty." ~ 2 Peter 1:16