THE SUPPOSED CONTRADICTION BETWEEN MARK 15:25 AND JOHN 19:14.
There is a group of people who appear to devote most of their waking hours to devising ways to discredit the Bible and faith toward God. They are what the Bible refers to as "enemies of the cross".
In their eagerness to discredit the God of Creation, they jump on any opportunity they can to do so, regardless of the fact that time and time again, their fanciful suppositions are proved to be wrong. So it is in this case.
I recently came upon a website where a group of atheists seemed to take particular delight in attacking the Christian Faith. One of the items on their discussion forum was the alleged contradiction between Mark 15:25 and John 19:14.
As I read their comments, I felt a genuine twinge of pity for these misguided souls whose lives so very clearly reflect the Truth of the Word of God which declares that knowledge puffs up. Here they were, in this anti-God forum and having a time chuckling amongst themselves over the "blind faith" of Christianity, thinking they were so much more knowledgeable than the sheep of the Christian faith.
After all, they reasoned, such "blatant contradictions" as these exist in the Bible, and yet these poor sheep park their brains at the door, and say "Well, I believe in God anyway!" Personally I think it will become evident that it is the atheists who park their brains at the door when they jump on the bandwagon with each other in their fervent quest to disprove Christianity. I thought I would post this response to their allegations on my website just to show how the person who chooses to reject God actually does so out of an inability to use rational thought processes to prove their point.
But as the Bible puts it so succinctly, "The fool says in his heart there is no God".
Mark appears to say that they crucified Jesus at the third hour, and John maintains that they crucified Him at the sixth hour.
Mar 15:25 And it was the third hour, and they crucified him.
Joh 19:14 And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!
There seems to be a glaring contradiction here. But is there?
The first thing I would bring to the honest skeptic's mind is that in Jesus' day, there were no Timex's to strap on a person's wrist and thereby give an accurate account of the precise time an event may have taken place.
Sundials existed, but they were not planted every where for a person's convenience…in other words, a person didn't just say, "Hmmm…I wonder what time it is? I think I'll walk over to the street corner and check the time!"
Each one of the gospel accounts were written some time after the fact the crucifixion…at different dates in time. When Matthew, Mark, Luke and John sat down to write their individual accounts, in reflecting back into time, each individual could remember certain details that would give him an approximate idea of the chronology of events.
Concerning the events that had just happened which led up to our Lord's crucifixion, we can be quite sure that it was a very traumatic moment in history for each of the persons who recorded these events. All of the disciples had fled in panic after the soldiers came to the garden to arrest the Lord. At that moment they were fugitives from the civil authorities. Fear gripped the hearts of each man who had been there.
One in their number had betrayed the Lord! Another one, in his zeal had cut off a man's ear! Things were happening so fast - they had arrested their Lord on false charges, and had rushed him to the Judgment hall to be tried and executed.
Anyone who has experienced a distressing circumstance in their life will acknowledge the fact that many details of what had happened are not perfectly clear. But there are always some vivid details concerning the event that become a reference point in the retelling of the story.
Again, keep in mind that there were no wristwatches or clocks in Jesus' day; the only way of telling time was to refer to the position of the sun. Nights were divided into periods of time called "Watches". In the Jewish culture, nights were divided into three watches, and in the Roman Culture, they were divided into four watches. These watches were determined by hour glasses or water powered devices that measured time. So, if something happened during the fourth watch, it could have occurred anywhere within a three hour time period.
In the same fashion, the Jewish day was marked by certain regular events that transpired daily. To make this point even more clear, we can see that the same thing is true in our American Society.
When "Lunch" is mentioned to most Americans, the period of time between 12:00 and 1:00 automatically comes to mind. But in this fast-paced world that we live in today, "Lunch" can actually refer to a period of time between 11:00A.M. and 4:00 P.M.. All you have to do is go to a restaurant to see if this is true. Typically, Breakfast is served between 5:30 A.M. and 11:00 A.M., then you can be served lunch at the aforementioned times, and after that, from 4:00 to around 9:00, you can order from the supper menu.
As you can see, the hedonistic mentalities of Americans have their time periods centered around their stomachs. So if an event occurs, even though we have the advantage of modern- day time pieces, many times we will hear a person recollect that event by saying something like: "Let's see…I know that it wasn't too long after I had finished eating supper at Luigi's…it must have been somewhere between 6:00 and 7:30 or maybe 8:00…"
The Jewish people also had a few events in their daily life that happened with regularity, and which were commonly used to identify when an event would take place. The third, the sixth, and the ninth hour were times of prayer for the Jewish people, and, accordingly, these were events that the writers of the gospels would naturally refer to when relating what had happened during the crucifixion. More often than not, we can see that the third, the sixth, and the ninth hour were the gauge of the approximate time of day, in much the same way as breakfast lunch and supper time are for us. This is beautifully illustrated in the parable Jesus tells in Matthew chapter 20 about the man who hired laborers to work in his vineyard.
Early in the morning (probably around 6:00) he hired some men. Then we see that at about the third, the sixth and the ninth hour he went and hired more. Then we are told that he hired more at about the eleventh hour, which would constitute the last hour in the day. From this parable we can see that the third, the sixth and the ninth hour were significant times in a Jew's day (see also Jn 4:6, Acts 2:15, Acts 3:1, Acts 10:3, 10:9).
John says "About the sixth hour"… Here he could be referring to a period either before or after the noon day prayer. I personally believe that it was BEFORE the noon day prayer, because of the evidence in the scripture, which you will see here in a minute.
If John's account refers to the period BEFORE the sixth hour, then it would have taken place somewhere between the third and the sixth hour, and since Mark identifies the time as being the third hour (remember, there were no time pieces; only the time of prayer to refer to), we can safely determine that the prayer that was to be prayed at the time of the third hour had already taken place. All of the Jewish leaders would have been too preoccupied with their prayer time to see Jesus Crucified at precisely the third hour. So we can see that like my illustration regarding breakfast, lunch and dinner, Mark was speaking in general terms when he said it was the third hour (remember - there were no watches). The time period was around the third hour...certainly not the sixth. And likewise, John tells us that the time period of the crucifixion was somewhere near the sixth hour. Keep in mind that these gospels were written some years after the actual event.
Taking into consideration both accounts, we can safely gather that Jesus' actual crucifixion took place somewhere between the third and the sixth hour, i.e. 9:00 A.M., to 12:00 noon... my guess would be that it occurred most likely somewhere around 10:30-11:00.
The common denominator in all the gospel accounts is that each of the authors mentions the sixth hour. That is the time that really stuck in their minds between the period of time that the Crucifixion had occurred and the writing of their accounts. Mark could look back and say "I remember the third hour prayer, and I know for certain He was already on the cross at the sixth hour, " and John could look back and say "I know for sure it was not yet the sixth hour." But they could both say that the Lord had been crucified BEFORE the sixth hour. And so could Matthew and Luke. WHY? Because of an awesome event that transpired at about the sixth hour that no one would ever forget.
According to Luke, the trial and crucifixion of the Lord had happened before the sixth hour. "About the sixth hour", Luke says there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. There was a great earthquake, and the veil of the temple was torn in the middle. At the ninth hour, the hour of prayer, Jesus gave Himself over to the Hands of His Father in Heaven (Luke 23:43-46).
Matthew concurs with Luke, in that there was darkness all over the land from the sixth hour unto the ninth hour. Matthew also gives an account of the veil of the temple being torn, and of an earth quake (Matt 27:45-51).
And to top it off, Mark also mentions the sixth hour to the ninth hour as a time when darkness was over the whole land, and a time when the temple was veil of the temple was split in two (Mark 15:33-38).
So we can see that the Sixth Hour was undeniably a time which all four writers remembered very well. This was the pivotal point of history for them and for all humanity. The fact that Mark mentioned the third hour to be the reference point as a time slot where he could point to the crucifixion, and the fact that John stated that it was somewhere around the noon day prayer gives us a clear picture that the crucifixion took place somewhere between 9:00 A.M. and noon.
The truth is that the skeptics would cry out that the writers of the gospels got together and compared notes with one another if the accounts were word for word the same. The fact that they aren't word for word, and that each gospel writer focuses on different aspects of the crucifixion should serve to give the gospels more credibility in any honest person's eyes.
Matthew focuses on the dead coming from their graves, while John focuses on the fact that Jesus commended him to watch over His mother before He died, and Mark and Luke focuses on how the event impacted the Centurion and the people who had gathered around His cross - these show how the gospel accounts confirm and complement one another, rather than contradicting each other.
But when a person is caught up in the gall of bitterness and rebellion because of some negative experience from their past, as MOST athiests are, they are more than likely to jsut dig deeper and try to find something else that might discredit Christianity.
2 Timothy speaks of a class of people who are ever learning but never coming to the knowledge of the Truth. What an apt description of the poor misguided Atheist!(Any other comments, either negative or positive are also welcome)
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