When is a contradiction not a contradiction? Is it possible to have a contradiction in place, yet the contradictions are true? Would they still be contradictions? Were they ever contradictions?

These were some of my thoughts today when I started researching an incident in the Gospel of Luke that I hadn’t noticed before. Namely, the healing of Simon Peter’s mother-in-law and the calling of Simon Peter by Jesus as a disciple. Before I get into that, I want to share some thoughts I had regarding Abram in Genesis.

Moving Out to Move Up

Most of us are familiar with the process of moving. Since I turned 18 years old, I have moved 21 times. Some of those were very big moves from one city to another, while others were moves within the same city. There’s even a move out of the United States and then back. In every case, I’ve had to pack up and leave. Usually, this meant leaving something behind.

Whenever I’ve moved, I’ve always done so for one reason or another. Most of my moves were done in Santa Barbara because of the way housing is there. I rented while I lived in Santa Barbara, which meant that I could be suddenly uprooted from my home at any time. People sell places, and situations change. While living in Santa Barbara, I had the privilege of living on the beautiful Riviera with multi-million dollar views to an apartment in an industrial area that operated almost 24 hours a day.

I’ve left behind family, friends, and lifestyles, not to mention furniture and the like. For the most part, there was always some loss in every move, no matter what the reason for the move. Sometimes we need to get up and leave things behind to move forward in our lives.

The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.

Genesis 12:1 (NIV)

When the Lord called Abram to leave his country, Abram left behind everything he knew to go somewhere he knew nothing about, and he did this because God told him to do it. Abram’s family, friends, and neighbors all worshipped other gods. However, Abram was called by God to follow Him. Abram had to leave behind idol worship and everything entailed with it.

Whenever I settled into a new place, I settled into different routines. I adapted to living in a new area, and sometimes those changes were hard to make. However, the longer I was in that place, the more I came to follow the ways of the place. I’ve known other people who move around a lot, and I’ve noticed two diametrically opposed ways of living. There’s the way I lived, where I settled into a place and got comfortable. Even if I didn’t know how long I was going to be there. Then, there are the people I know who couldn’t get comfortable in their new places because they would end up having to move.

When we are called by God to go somewhere new and do something new, everything around us may change. Nothing may be familiar. Sometimes we need to get away from everything we know to take hold of the things God has for us because the things we know, the people we know, and the ways of living we know are holding us back from what God has for us. When God called Abram out of his native country, God was calling him away from the doubts, fears, and traditions Abram was accustomed to. He showed him a better way. God’s way for Abram and his children.

Contradictions?

When we read the Bible, we may encounter events and such that appear to be contradictions. If we’re not careful, we can start dipping into the idea that the people who wrote the Bible were just people, and as people, they can make mistakes. People do make mistakes, right? If we read one thing in one place in the Bible and it appears somewhere else that someone else is saying something else then we could attribute that to human error. However, we know the Bible to be the inspired word of God, not made up by people but given by the Holy Spirit. (2 Timothy 3:16-17, 1 Corinthians 2:12-13).

If we happen to run across what we think is a contradiction, then it’s always going to be a fault in our understanding. How do we define contradiction?

Merriam-Webster tells us this:
Contradiction

  1. The act of saying something that is opposite or very different in meaning to something else.
  2. A difference or disagreement between two things which means that both cannot be true.

Luke

Today when I read about the calling of Simon Peter in Luke 5, I remembered something I had read yesterday in Luke 4.

Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her. So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them.

Luke 4:38-39 (NIV)

You can read about the calling of Simon Peter in Luke here.

I had been fairly certain that Peter had been called by Jesus before Jesus had healed his mother-in-law. Was I in error? Had I missed something before? If so, then this is something new and interesting that could change how I view events. What do the other Gospels have to say about these events?

Matthew

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”

Matthew 4:18-19 (NIV)

When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him.

Matthew 8:14-15 (NIV)

We see in Matthew that Jesus called Peter and Andrew before He healed Peter’s mother-in-law in Matthew 8.

Mark

As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”

Mark 1:16-17 (NIV)

Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.

Mark 1:30-31 (NIV)

The Gospel of Mark also indicates that Peter and Andrew were called by Jesus before He healed Peter’s mother-in-law.

John

The Gospel of John doesn’t record this event, so we have no direct comparison available here.

I researched this issue to see what the commentators had to say and found nothing about the apparent discrepancy. No one said anything about Peter’s mother-in-law being healed before he was called. I searched hermeneutic sites to see if the question had been raised by anyone else and found a great deal of discussion on the issue. After reading various points about which Gospel was written first and who was “more” accurate, I concluded that none of that really mattered.

Three out of the four Gospels tell us Jesus healed Simon Peter’s mother-in-law from a fever. This is a fact, and there’s nothing contradictory about it. Matthew and Mark record the event after Peter is called by the Lord, while Luke places it before Peter is called. I thought Luke was the most chronological of the Gospels which is what piqued my interest in the first place. I haven’t discovered that I was wrong. Merely that Luke tells us of this event in a different timeline.

Again, what struck me about the hermeneutic sites, and the language used was the word contradiction. That word hadn’t entered my mind until after I started researching the issue. Even then, I didn’t see a contradiction. I just wanted to know more. I thought I had discovered something I previously missed and was delighted.

Conclusion

Our approach when we read the Bible has a lot to do with how we receive it. In addition to what we receive from it. Years ago, I took a class in studying the Bible as literature and had a hard time with a lot of what I heard, because the Bible isn’t just literature. It’s not a book written by a bunch of people who shared a common interest. I’m being redundant, but it’s the inspired word of God!

I’ve heard it said you only get out what you put into something, and when it comes to reading the Bible, I believe it. When we approach it with faith in God and the belief that God can and will work in and through us through His Word, we are reading it with eyes of faith. However, if you approach it in unbelief, looking to find fault, the fault you will see has been reflected from you. After all, suspicious people see suspicious things.

Do you know God? God knows you, and He loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, right now, and He wants you to know Him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so we could be free of guilt, be freed from death, and live eternally with Him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Lord Jesus, forgive me for all my sins. I repent from my ways. Wash me in your blood and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I believe that you died on the cross, were buried, and on the third day, God the Father raised you from the dead. Right now, Lord Jesus, I open the door to my heart, and I receive you into my heart as my Lord and personal Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.