Two Talents

Faith-based expressions of a Christian.

Contradictory gospels?

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I really like NPR, but I recognize that it is a wholly secular endeavor. Take, for instance, this story about apparent contradictions in the biblical gospels.

“In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus is not interested in teaching about himself. But when you read John’s Gospel, that’s virtually the only thing Jesus talks about is who he is, what his identity is, where he came from,” Ehrman says. “This is completely unlike anything that you find in Mark or in Matthew and Luke. And historically it creates all sorts of problems, because if the historical Jesus actually went around saying that he was God, it’s very hard to believe that Matthew, Mark and Luke left out that part — you know, as if that part wasn’t important to mention. But in fact, they don’t mention it. And so this view of the divinity of Jesus on his own lips is found only in our latest Gospel, the Gospel of John.”

This from the lips of a man who has attended both the Moody Bible Institute and Princeton Theological Seminary. One may not be like the other in the case of those two institutions, but irregardless of where you obtain your education if you cannot see Jesus claiming divinity in Matthew, Mark and Luke you are blind; spiritually and almost literally.

Mark opens his gospel by stating Jesus is the “Son of God”. That’s a title of divinity. In Mark 1:24 we read that the demon who possessed a man said, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are–the Holy One of God!” That statement alone may not reveal the divinity of Jesus, but when Jesus casts out the demon He demonstrates that He possesses a power that comes only from God. Of course, Elijah and Elisha were the instruments of miraculous healings, so this only qualifies Jesus as a prophet of great, godly power, right?

If the narratives about Jesus in the synoptic gospels ended there then, yes, this man would have a valid theological argument. But such arguments do not end there. In the very next chapter of Mark we find Jesus making a blatant claim to divinity. In Mark 2:1-12 we find the story of Jesus healing a paralytic man (this miracle is also recorded in Matthew 9:2-8 and Luke 5:17-26). Jesus tells the paralytic that his sins are forgiven. The religious leaders present mull thoughts in their heads that Jesus has committed blasphemy, since only God can forgive sins. Jesus knows their thoughts and asks them which is easier to do: to tell the man his sins are forgiven or tell him to arise and walk? Jesus then dramatically announces: “But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”–He said to the paralytic, “I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home.”

To show that He does possesses the power to forgive sins, something only God can do, He heals the man’s paralysis. This is an overt claim (and proof) of deity. In Luke 6:6-11 we find the story of Jesus healing a man with a withered hand (also chronicled in Matthew 12:9-13 and Mark 3:1-5). This is one of seven times Jesus “works” on a Sabbath (all He actually did in this case was speak, but the religious leaders counted it against Him as working on the Sabbath). In his excellent study series of the miracles of Jesus Hampton Keathley IV notes, in this case, that two chapters earlier Jesus quoted from Isaiah’s prophecies about the Messiah and concluded by telling His audience, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Keathley points out that this, combined with Jesus’ Sabbath miracles, show that He is Lord of the Sabbath. And if Lord of the Sabbath then He is Lord over the whole law of Moses, since the Sabbath was the sign of the Mosaic Covenant. Thus, by breaking the superfluous rules the religious leaders had imposed upon the Sabbath (which made it a burden the people, not a blessing) Jesus was re-claiming the Sabbath. The conclusion is clear: Jesus is re-claiming His Sabbath, after it had been hijacked by men.

There are also obvious proofs that Jesus is God without Him having to utter a word, if you are willing to see them wihout prejudiced eyes. Jesus raised three from the dead: Lazarus, Jarius’ daughter and the son of the widow from Nain. In all cases He ordered them to arise and they did. Others in the bible raised the dead, but only through supplication to God, who was the actual actor in the miracle. Jesus does not appeal to God to give Him the ability to raise the dead (something only God can do), He simply orders the dead to become alive again and they do so. He does this under His own authority and through His own power. While the Lazarus story is found only in John the raising of the widow’s son is found in Luke (7:11-16) and the raising of Jarius’ daugher in each of the synoptics (Matthew 9:18-26; Mark 5:21-43; Luke 8:40-56).

There are other examples in the miracles of Jesus. There are examples outside of those accounts as well. In chapter 24 of Matthew Jesus tells of His second coming and states that He will send His angels to gather His elect. These are God’s angels and God’s elect, so this statement is a claim to deity. In the next chapter He speaks of sitting on His golden throne, where He will judge, something only God can do. In chapter 26 He institutes the ordinance of Communion, indicating that He would be sacrificed for the sins of man. Only a sinless sacrifice could possible atone for the sins of man, and no human who has ever lived has been without sin. Thus, He is divine, as only God is without sin. Finally, Matthew’s gospel concludes with the Great Commission, where Jesus states that, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” and that the apostles are to baptize in the name of the triune God and teach disciples to observe what He has commanded. No one but God could make such legitimate claims. Lukes gospel ends similarly.

For anyone to state that Jesus made no claims to deity in the synoptic gospels shows they are either blind to the message or are allowing a bias to interfere with what is clearly present.

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Written by Shawn

March 15, 2010 at 2:04 am

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