The four gospels have discrepancies in detail, including the resurrection of Jesus.
Not so long ago, academics postulated that the discrepancies arose because of the political posturing of the four gospel writers.
However, our ‘brilliant academics’ forgot to factor in the nature of oral tradition:
The slight variations between the gospels show all the marks of oral tradition, for in genuine oral tradition each ‘performance’ is different. Different people tell the story slightly differently, stressing different aspects (Henry Wansbrough, Universalis).
John’s account of the empty tomb varies from that of Matthew, Mark and Luke.
In the ancient world, it was the custom for thieves to raid tombs, steal the expensive cloths and sell them on the black market, leaving behind the mortal remains of the deceased.
Not so the tomb of Jesus.
Peter walks right into the tomb and sees the linen cloths but not the body of Jesus.
It is a counter-cultural event par excellence.
Deferring to Peter, John waits at the entrance, and then he enters the sacred sepulchre.
John reveals that ‘he sees and he believes.’
In we go, after Peter and John, and we let this prodigious, dramatic and splendid counter-cultural event penetrate us.
Witness is the most powerful tool of conversion let’s make it happen by inviting those who have come into the church at Easter to tell their story of conversion.