One of the clearest kinds of evidence for the accuracy of the accounts in the Gospels
is the set of detailed correspondences between the accounts. Because there are four
Gospels which produce sets of parallel accounts there is a good opportunity to find
undesigned coincidences. The coincidences often involve details in parallel accounts
which complement one another to show some minor back-story.
The Feeding of the 5000
There are several examples in the accounts of the feeding of the five thousand (see
single page download). One of these notes that there are several references to grass.
Mark 6:39 notes that the grass was green and John 6:10 comments that there was much
grass in the place. Matthew 14:19 simply mentions the grass in passing. This is distinct
from the account of the feeding of the four thousand where the references are always
to the ground. In the Eastern Mediterranean area there is only green grass on the
ground in the spring - around the time of Passover. Before this the grass does not
start to grow and later on the lack of rain and hot sun makes the grass turn brown
and wither. John 6:4 notes that the miracle took place exactly at passover time.
This coincidence could not have been put together by having Matthew and Mark look
at John’s Gospel before they wrote about the feeding of the five thousand; John’s
Gospel was not written at this point. The only sensible explanation is that the Gospels
are describing, in considerable accurate detail, an event that actually happened.
The Baptist and the Pharisees
This coincidence is not in Blunt, but it has considerable force. Luke 7:29,30 notes
that the Pharisees were not baptised by John the Baptist and that they therefore
rejected the teaching of Jesus. The actual account of the rejection of the Pharisees
by John appears in Matthew 3:7-10 where John not only refuses to baptise them but
refers to them as a “Brood of vipers”. This explains why the Pharisees were initially
so opposed to the message that Jesus shared with John.
Again, this is a minor detail in the narratives and shows complete independence.
It is only really explained by the idea that the Gospel writers were writing accurate
accounts of real events.
In Matthew’s Gospel we read of Herod discussing Jesus with his servants:-
At that time Herod the tetrarch heard about the fame of Jesus and he said to his
servants, "This is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the dead; that is why
these miraculous powers are at work in him." (Matthew 14:1,2)
At the time of Jesus the difference in social standing between a king and his servants
would be huge. It would be very unusual for a king like Herod to discuss matters
of state with his servants. However, in this case there is a reason for Herod to
approach his servants.
and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod‘s household manager, and Susanna, and many others,
who provided for them out of their means. (Luke 8:3)
Luke shows that there was a connection between at least some of his servants and
Jesus. The wife of Chuza, one of Herod’s chief servants, was among the supporters
of Jesus, and as a consequence Chuza would be able to present an informed opinion
of Jesus. This is why Herod discusses the matter with his servants.
The two accounts are clearly independent of one another. They are not discussing
the same matter. The only reason that we know that Jesus was supported by the wife
of one of Herod’s servants is in a passage which identifies the wife. Similarly,
the details are clearly trivial; neither Mark (Mark 6:14) nor Luke (Luke 9:7-9) includes
any reference to Herod’s servants in their account of Herod’s saying. This is clearly
an authentic record of a real event.
What it Means
The existence of a considerable number of undesigned coincidences in the Gospels
doesn’t, on its own, show that the Gospels are message from God. However, the coincidences
do show that the Gospels contain an accurate and detailed record of the events that
they describe. This is important. The words of Jesus recorded in the Gospels were
really spoken by Jesus and the actions of Jesus reported in the Gospels were performed
exactly as the Gospels describe them.