Contradictions within the miracles of Jesus

The Bible records thirty-seven miracles performed by Jesus. Recorded by the four Gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, these miracles show us the divine power of Jesus. Critics point to possible contradictions within these miracles, and even in which miracles were recorded. Do these claims of contradiction hold any merit? 

Some people see the different miracles recorded in the Gospels as a possible contradiction. Why would the writers not record the same miracles in each of the Gospels? This is not a contradiction at all and in fact the differences should be expected. Each Gospel writer had a wide variety of miracles to choose from for inclusion in their writings. This could be compared to a person who compiles a sports highlight film. If they are to select the greatest plays from a weekend of professional football, there would be more than a dozen games with perhaps thousands of plays to consider. Some of the truly remarkable plays may be included in all of the different highlight reels. Others will depend on the personal taste and opinion of the person compiling the highlights. With so many plays, miracles, to choose from, we should not expect the same highlights in each of the Gospels.

Original audience for each of the Gospels

Matthew - Was written for a primarily Jewish audience to show Jesus was indeed the Messiah.

Mark wrote his Gospel for a Roman audience. By the middle to late first century Christianity had spread to Rome and many believers wanted more information.

Luke was written from a Historian's viewpoint.

John was written to a very broad audience to show everyone could have a life in Christ if they put their faith in Him.

We must remember the gospel writers did not include all of the miracles Jesus preformed. In the gospel of Matthew (9:35-36) he tells us Jesus went through all the towns and villages teaching and healing every disease and sickness. Saint John also tells us he left out a great deal of what Jesus did during His brief time on Earth.

“Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”  John 21:25 

Enough of His miracles were recorded to show us His power and authority here on earth. Of the thirty-seven miracles, nineteen of them are recorded in only one of the Gospel accounts. Seven are recorded by two of the Gospels writers while ten are recorded by three of the four Gospels. Only a single miracle, The Feeding of the Five Thousand, is recorded in all four Gospel accounts.

The first of two miracles in which critics point out contradictions is when Jesus raised Jairus's daughter from the dead. This miracle took place in Capernaum in Galilee. It was just one of several miracles Jesus performed on this day. He also restored sight to the two blind men, healed the woman with the bleeding problem and possibly healed a mute man on this day as well. The contradiction revolves around the question of was Jairus's daughter dead, or just very ill. At first reading it is easy to see how the critics can be confused.

In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus is told “My daughter has just died” while in Mark Jesus is told “My little daughter is at the point of death.” Obviously, both of these cannot be accurate, so critics insist it is a clear contradiction and is evidence the Bible cannot be trusted. As with most supposed contradictions, a closer examination of the scripture reveals the truth.

The major problem here is that Matthew devotes only 9 versus to the story while Matthew writes 22 verses. Matthew’s version is much shorter, and some details are left out. The major difference is that Matthew does not include the information that while Jesus and Jarius were on their way to the house someone comes to them and tells them the girl has just died.

“While he was still speaking, people came from the synagogue ruler’s house saying. “Your daughter is dead. Why bother the Teacher anymore?” – Mark 5:35

The facts of the story are the same, just one author leaves out a few details. The ruler approached Jesus to help his daughter. When the ruler first approached Jesus, she was still alive, but she passed before Jesus could reach her. There is no contradiction, just a difference in the author’s point of view and how they reported the events.

The second contradiction is said to occur when Jesus restores the eyesight of Bartimaeus. The miracle takes place in Jericho and happened very near the end of Jesus' earthly ministry. In the gospel of Mark, we are told of how Jesus cured Bartimaeus of his blindness. It is interesting that in a parallel version of this miracle, Matthew tells us there were two blind men begging by the side of the road. Were there two men, or just the one?

"And as they went out of Jerichoa great crowd followed him. And behold there were two blind men sitting by the roadside." Matthew 20:29-30

It seems evident Mark decided to focus on just one of the men. It is considered highly probably that Bartimaeus was better known to the local people. For this reason, Mark focused on the man who the people knew and would relate too best. Again, this should not be seen at a contradiction, just a different telling of the same story. Mark focused on just Bartimaeus, but that does not mean there was not a second man who went unmentioned.

Once the writings are looked at more closely and kept in the proper context, it is obvious there are no contradictions in the text. The differences we do see rather than taking away from the biblical texts can actually strengthen our confidence in the Bible. With four people writing separately we should expect slight variations in how they viewed the same events and how they recorded these events. These slight variations in how they recorded the individual events show us the writers worked independently and while they did occasionally see things differently, the core elements of the story remain accurate and consistent. 

Bible Archaeology

  Excerpt from upcoming book, "200+ Archaeological Discovers."   A Comprehensive Guide to Biblical Archaeology. ... Coming late 20...