One’s first reaction to different accounts about the same event is to assume that somebody is wrong—and that is an expected assumption. However, Craig Keener makes a couple of valid points.
First of all, if there had been a calculated deception among the writers, then the stories would have been identical. (You’ve seen your children do this when they confer and concoct a story to avoid telling the truth).
Second, the different details authenticate the different perspectives. This underlines the likelihood of details the accounts share in common.
These writers wrote from different perspectives, different sources, and the reality that the events had a different impact on them personally. If an accident happened today and different people were observing it, you would get four stories, all of which were accurate, but none of which were identical.
Lord, our master, whose glory fills the whole earth, show us by your Passion that you, the true eternal Son of God, triumph even in the deepest humiliation. —Bach in John’s Passion
Triumph and humiliation do not usually belong in the same sentence. God excels in the ironic situations of life. When Joseph’s brothers worried over the consequence of how they had treated Joseph, he responded, “You intended it for evil; God meant it for good.”
The suffering of Jesus is the supreme example of triumph in the deepest humiliation. Jesus was beaten mercilessly. Isaiah completely called this sequence of events:
For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
(Isaiah 53:2-3 ESV)
As one from whom men hide their faces. People couldn’t bear to look at Jesus. I wonder, in Pilate’s interrogation of Jesus, if Pilate looked at the ground–did he look him in the eye?
Majesty was veiled by blood. Glory was masked by groaning. Royalty hid behind repulsion.
What is your humiliation? Your shame? Your embarrassment? In Jesus’ hands, and under Jesus’ blood, you can triumph even in the deepest humiliation. This Easter season, call out to the humiliated Jesus who is now exalted. Cry out to the One who cried out to His own Father on the cross.
It may be Friday…but Sunday’s coming. Weeping may last for the night, but joy comes with the morning. (Psalm 30:5)