In the four Gospel accounts of Jesus’ crucifixion, there’s an apparent contradiction regarding who carried Jesus’ cross.

A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross.

Mark 15:21 (NIV)

As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross.

Matthew 27:32 (NIV)

As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus.

Luke 23:26 (NIV)

Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha).

John 19:17 (NIV)

Mark, Matthew, and Luke tell us that Simon from Cyrene was forced to carry Jesus’ cross, but John tells us Jesus carried his cross on his own. Is Mark, Matthew, and Luke correct, or is John right?

John 19:17 reveals that Jesus was initially forced to carry his cross to add to his torture and humiliation. However, after trying to carry the cross after such brutal torture, Jesus could no longer bear it. This is where the Romans conscript Simon of Cyrene to carry the cross for Jesus.

Since Jesus started carrying the cross, John is correct, and because Jesus could no longer bear the cross, Mark, Matthew, and Luke are also correct. These sorts of “inconsistencies” between the Gospel accounts verify the events of the Gospel because each account came from a different person.

There are several reasons why the accounts might be different. Perhaps, since it was Passover, and since Jews from all over would be flooding Jerusalem, John didn’t see Jesus stumble and fall, unable to carry the cross any longer, or maybe John chose to focus on how brutal it was to force Jesus to carry his cross.

Just as the same event produces different eyewitness accounts today, it was no different when Jesus was crucified, so there is no contradiction.