There is an error that many people make today, regarding God and whether evidence for His Being can be observed. I have had conversations with individuals who have brought forth accusations of contradictions that they assert, exist in the Bible. Rather than focussing on what the purpose of the particular verses are saying, the person looks closely at the differences between the gospel writers; as evidence that the text is not truthful.
I recently finished translating my own version of the four gospels for a new book: “One Gospel,” which required a great amount of time to correctly create a version of the New Testament text that is both accurate and reliable. The reason for this new version is that major publishers of the existing translations, do not allow the extent of use for this text that I am accessing, without paying a sizable royalty payment.
As I was trying to meticulously ensure that the text was true to the original, I became aware of multiple places where the four writers of Jesus Gospel, recorded different observations from one another. All of these men were telling the same story, while recording their own particular view of what took place. I have written about this before and have stated that this difference between the four writers is evidence of authenticity, not contradiction. When four people are at the scene of an event, they will always write different aspects of the same story; if the account genuinely took place. If four people write an account that matches each other, precisely, this is evidence of coercion between the writers and likely reveals that the story is not true.
Luke’s account of this event appears to some critics of the Bible, contradictory to Matthew’s account. Matthew describes the Centurion coming to Jesus personally with a request; Luke speaks of the leader of the Jews being sent on behalf of the Centurion, to ask for help from Jesus.
Luke 7:1-4 After he had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. 2 Now a centurion had a servant who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him. 3 When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant. 4 And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him…”
Matthew 8:5-6 Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented.”
What we observe here is not a contradiction but a common writing method used by Matthew to abbreviate certain events. Matthew simply reports what the Centurion said to Jesus through his friends in the Jewish authority.
A second observation is that two people are recounting the same event by their own recollection. This is quite common amongst eye witnesses who see the same incident. Witnesses will tell similar stories, with slightly different versions. Police officers who interview witnesses who were present at an accident or crime, often report a similar phenomenon. People were clearly at the same event, but saw and heard slightly different things. These are not conflicts; they are a common occurrence in recording eye witness testimony.
The fact that we see a slight variation of the same event, as recorded by Matthew and Luke, gives greater credibility to the authenticity of what is written. Contrived stories almost always take special care to make certain that their testimonies match exactly, whereas genuine testimony almost always consists of similar versions of the same events, told from a slightly different perspective.
What often occurs in an individual who is examining these two texts, is the fact that they see only a contradiction and not the reality of the event. For example, both writers are described the same event. The event is one that is of extraordinary facts: Jesus healed a man’s servant by simply speaking. If we focus only on the difference between what these two writers recorded, they we might be led to conclude that their testimonies are inconsistent and therefor the story is invalid.
We must consider that the early Christian church knew that these two writers wrote different accounts; in fact I have observed many of these differences in the accounts of the four gospel writers. The leaders of the early church, could have altered the text to reveal precise testimony, if it was their desire to deceive. They left the text as it was written, because they were convinced by their examination, that both men had wrote truthful accounts of the same event. They understood that whether the Centurion himself came to Jesus, or dispatched his servant to Jesus, was irrelevant. The point of the story is that Jesus spoke a few words, and the Centurion’s servant was immediately healed.
From events like this one, we must ask ourselves: “who is this Jesus?”
If a man has this kind of power over the physical elements of earth, by a command, certainly this is great evidence that He is God. No mere man or magician could speak to a person a heal them, walk across the surface of the water, spit into the eye of the blind and cause them to see, raise His voice in a command to the dead, and bring them back to life. If God were going to prove Himself to us, He certainly has done this very thing through Jesus Christ.
This is the point of the New Testament and the reason that honest men wrote the things that they had knowledge of concerning Jesus Christ.
If a person is sincerely searching for answers as to whether or not God exists, beginning with the person of Jesus Christ; evaluating Him, His words, the things He did, is the wisest and most fruitful place of beginning. When we examine Jesus carefully, and see that His presence here on earth was recorded, not only by the pages of the Bible, but also the secular history of the Romans and the Jews, we must conclude that He is a genuine person of history. Since the record of Jesus life, death, and resurrection have survived both time and decay, above the testimony of any other real person of history, we must conclude that what history wrote of Him is true.
For more information regarding the records of the Romans and the Jews, documenting the existence of Jesus, see the following article, or the book “Yeshu, the Historical Jesus,” by Robert Clifton Robinson.