Apparent Bible Contradiction? Mysterious Jesus?

Jairus daughter 1

Q. In the raising of Jairus daughter, Mt 9 said she had died, but Mk 5 and Lk 8 said she was only dying. So which is it? Did the Bible contradict itself? Also Jesus ordered Jairus not to tell anyone. Is it because He wanted to keep a low profile, or because He knew they wouldn’t know how to respond?

A. No, the Bible did not contradict itself. First, let’s look at the context. All 3 Synoptic Gospels record “Jesus Raises a Dead Girl and Heals a Sick Woman” as two intertwined stories, but note their lengths. Using the NIV, we have:

• Matthew – Dead girl: 6 verses; sick woman: 3 verses;
• Mark – Girl 13 verses; woman 11 verses;
• Luke – Girl 11 verses; woman 6 verses.

Clearly, Matthew condensed the incidents in an abbreviated form, while Mark and Luke recorded them with fuller details. Next, note that both Mark and Luke recorded two visits to Jesus:

• The first by Jairus himself when his daughter was dying (Mk 5:22-23; Lk 8:41-42);
• The second by someone from Jairus house saying that his daughter was dead (Mk 5:35; Lk 8:49).

It can be concluded that when Jairus first went to Jesus, his daughter was about to die. However, with the delay because of the sick woman incident, Jairus’ daughter died while waiting for Jesus to come. Matthew’s abridged account conflated the two visits into one, with the synagogue leader saying, “My daughter has just died” (Mt 9:18). The essence remained the same, but the abridged version did not go into the details.

With respect to Jesus’ orders not to tell anyone (Mk 5:43; Lk 8:56), it is not because of His wanting to keep a low profile, or His concern that they wouldn’t know how to respond. Actually, He knew they would respond in the wrong way, and disrupt prematurely His plans to save the world. During Jesus’ times, the Jews were under Roman conquest, and were expecting the coming of Messiah to overthrow the Romans and deliver the nation. In fact, even after Jesus’ death and resurrection His disciples still carried this thinking:
Acts 1:6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

During His earthly ministry, Jesus had to avoid such focus on the earthly and the miraculous. For example, after the feeding of the 5,000:
Jn 6:15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.

Men focus on getting publicity, but Jesus always focused on doing the Father’s will, at His timing e.g.
Jn 7:8 You go to the festival. I am not going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.”

Jesus kept a low profile when His time had not yet come. However, when the time is ripe, He publicly presented Himself as King in His triumphal entry into Jerusalem:
Lk 19:40 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

Hope we can follow His example to follow the Father’s will in every little detail.

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