PROBLEMS WITH THE RESURRECTION STORIES
T. PIERCE BROWN
It is sad beyond expression when a person who has been a gospel preacher or an elder in the Lord’s church finds some difficulty in the Bible that is not clear to him, and allows himself to be led by the Devil or unbelievers into rejecting the validity of the testimony of the Apostles, and accusing them of contradictions and discrepancies. We have known of this happening when a person goes to a University for a theological degree and listens to the infidelity of modernists who seem to spend their time and effort in trying to destroy the faith of students rather than teaching the Bible or theological principles. It may also happen when a person honestly starts to do research on his own, but perhaps because he gets impressed with his own brilliance as he discovers some insight not understood by the average student, he begins to substitute human wisdom for God’s word. I have a very dear friend who apparently has done that, and because it is heart breaking, I thought it might be well to examine some samples of such faith eroding study that others might escape the trap into which some have fallen.
My friend reveals something of his thinking when he begins to parrot the accusations of atheists about the stories relating to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. First, Matthew says in Mt. 28:1 that as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to the sepulchre. John says that Mary Magdalene came while it was yet dark. Mark says, “at the rising of the sun.” How could it be yet dark at the rising of the sun? So, we may reject the whole story, and then eventually any other part of the Bible we do not understand. The answer is simple. They were some distance away from the tomb, so they started while it was yet dark, so it is proper to say that they came or were coming while it was yet dark. They arrived at the rising of the sun, so it is correct to say that they came at the rising of the sun.
An even more serious kind of criticism is for them to say, “John says that only Mary Magdalene came while others claim that there were more.” Any honest, careful reader can see that John does not say that only Mary came. The fact that John only mentions Mary at that point does not even remotely suggest that John implied that Mary was the only one there.
It is claimed that there are four different accounts of what was written on the cross about Jesus, and that one or more of them must be wrong. Matthew says it read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews” ( Mt. 37:27). Mark says it read, “The king of the Jews” (Mk.15:26). Luke says it read, “This is the king of the Jews” (Lk.23:38). John says it read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews” (Jn.19:19). Without assuming that we have the only possible explanation of the apparent discrepancy, let us suppose it said, “This is Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews.” Have any of the four writers indicated that it did not say that? Read each record carefully, and you will see that what each one of them said was on the sign would be on there. None of them said that they included all that was on the sign, but each of them told correctly what was there. The fact that John says that it was written in Hebrew, Latin and Greek shows that there could have been at least three different statements, not all saying the same thing, but that assumption is not necessary, for there could have been three different languages all of which said, “This is Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews” and still there would be no contradiction between the records, for none of them claim to have reproduced all that was on the inscription.
We could multiply by the dozens the criticisms of unbelievers in the accuracy and validity of the Bible stories. Those of us who teach and preach should be honest enough to admit it when we find a difficulty we cannot explain, but we should not lose our faith as we strive to find the answers to our questions.
T. Pierce Brown
1068 Mitchell Ave.
Cookeville, TN. 38501
Phone: (615) 528-3600