Monday, April 16, 2012

120416 - Mark 16 and Numbers 01 - Resurrection Narrative Questions

Monday SOAP: Questions about how to harmonize the Resurrection stories in the Gospels? Anyone who has read them all has wondered how to put them together. Here are some thoughts about why the various descriptions' differences are a good thing, and how that serves as a warning to absolutely refuse to tamper with the Bible's words.


S: And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. (Mark 16:6)

O: Just looking at this one chapter of Scripture for today reminds me of my job in answering "Difficult Theological Questions," the name of one of my communities at my ministry, Global Media Outreach. This one chapter is so full of controversies: how do you reconcile the order of events on Resurrection Sunday? Did Christ really stay in the grave three days and three nights as He said? Did He rise on Sunday morning, or Saturday evening before sunrise? Why did He appear first to Mary Magdalene? What does it mean that He appeared in a different "form" to the two disciples on their way to the country? Are the last 11 verses of Mark genuine? Any good study Bible has a great deal of footnotes in each Gospel's narrative of the Resurrection story.

A: I shouldn't be surprised about this. The attacks of skeptics, cults and other religions wouldn't be primarily directed at the doctrine of angels. The darts are aimed at the point at which they could do the most damage by sowing doubt, confusion and disagreement. The resurrection of Christ is the sine qua non of Christianity. (1 Corinthians 15:17) The doctrine of Christ is another. The understanding and transmission of the authentic gospel is challenged at every turn as well.

Thankfully, the Gospel accounts are made all the more credible by the various viewpoints. The very fact that they have come down to us today with details that are difficult to reconcile says a great deal about God's preservation of Scripture. I know when my own ministry writes for a wide, multicultural audience, it's necessarily with great simplicity. Anything unnecessary is smoothed out.

If any editing had occurred, it would certainly have been done to harmonize these accounts. And in so doing, the "helpful" scribes who dared to tamper with God's Word would have corrupted it greatly. As it is, though the skeptics have plenty to keep them busy each time we celebrate the Resurrection of Christ, they only repeat old objections that have been answered long ago. That's why in the last few decades, they've gone outside the Bible for ammunition, (Nag Hammadi library and other apocryphal and pseudepigraphal or Gnostic gospels, "Jesus" tomb, Da Vinci Code, etc.), rather than to the Bible itself. For those who make an honest attempt to investigate the Resurrection, they often become convinced of it truth. (Examples being Frank Morison, Simon Greenleaf, Lew Wallace, Lee Strobel, and Campus Crusade's own Josh McDowell)

Once again, I'm reminded of God's warning not to tamper with His Word. (Deut. 4:2; Psalm 12:6; Prov. 30:6; Revelation 22:18-19) We may not immediately see the purpose of how it is written the way it is - yet it will accomplish that purpose. (Isaiah 55:11)

P: Father, as your Word says, the "foolishness of God" is wiser than men. Thank you for the inspiration, preservation and transmission of your Word.

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