February 19, 2021 by SLIMJIM
Today’s post will tackle another question that the Skeptic Annotated Bible asked: “Who carried Jesus’s cross?”
Here are the answers which the skeptic believes shows a Bible contradiction:
Jesus carried his own cross.
They took Jesus, therefore, and He went out, carrying His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which in Hebrew is called, Golgotha. (John 19:17)
Simon the Cyrenian carried Jesus’s cross.
As they were coming out, they found a man of Cyrene named Simon, whom they compelled to carry His [cross. (Matthew 27:32)
And they *compelled a passer-by coming from the country, Simon of Cyrene (the father of Alexander and Rufus), to carry His cross. (Mark 15:21)
And when they led Him away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, as he was coming in from the country, and placed on him the cross to carry behind Jesus. (Luke 23:26)
(All Scriptural quotation comes from the New American Standard Bible)
Here’s a closer look at whether or not there is a contradiction:
- When dealing with skeptics’ claim of Bible contradictions it seems one can never be reminded enough of what exactly is a contradiction. A contradiction occurs when two or more claims conflict with one another so that they cannot simultaneously be true in the same sense and at the same time. To put it another way, a Bible contradiction exists when there are claims within the Bible that are mutually exclusive in the same sense and at the same time.
- One should be skeptical of whether this is a Bible contradiction given the Skeptic Annotated Bible’s track record of inaccurately handling the Bible. See the many examples of their error which we have responded to in this post: Collection of Posts Responding to Bible Contradictions. Of course that does not take away the need to respond to this claim of a contradiction, which is what the remainder of this post will do. But this observation should caution us to slow down and look more closely at the passages cited by the Skeptic Annotated Bible to see if they interpreted the passages properly to support their conclusion that it is a Bible contradiction.
- The skeptic tries to pit John 19:17 as affirming the claim “Jesus carried his own cross” against three verses, Matthew 27:32, Mark 15:21 and Luke 23:26 as affirming “Simon the Cyrenian carried Jesus’s cross.”
- It is important to ask if the passages were properly interpreted to support the skeptics’ claims. In order to check one must also keep in mind the context of the verses the skeptic cited. In all four passages they involved Jesus approaching His crucifixion. It seems the skeptics are correct to interpret the passages properly. John 19:17 does affirm the claim “Jesus carried his own cross” since it talks about Jesus “carrying His own cross.” The other three verses, Matthew 27:32, Mark 15:21 and Luke 23:26 does teach “Simon the Cyrenian carried Jesus’s cross.” In both Mark 15:21 and Luke 23:26 the individual carrying Jesus’ cross is named as “ Simon of Cyrene,” while Matthew 27:32 it tells us the same thing in a more lenghty fashion: “a man of Cyrene named Simon.“
- While John 19:17 identified Jesus carrying His own Cross that doesn’t entail it contradict with Matthew 27:32, Mark 15:21 and Luke 23:26 since in order for it to be a contradiction John 19:17 has to say it was ONLY Jesus carried the Cross. But John 19:17 doesn’t say that. Nor does John 19:17 says NO ONE, not even Simon of Cyrene helped carry Jesus’ cross.
- Likewise though Matthew 27:32, Mark 15:21 and Luke 23:26 identified Simon helped carried Jesus’ cross that doesn’t mean it contradict with John 19:17 since in order for it to be a contradiction those three verses has to say it was ONLY Simon who carried the Cross. But Matthew 27:32, Mark 15:21 and Luke 23:26 doesn’t say that. Nor do those three verses says NO ONE, not even Jesus, helped carry Jesus’ cross.
- Given point 5 and 6 it is logically possible at different times the cross was carried by different individuals as Jesus headed to His crucifixion.
- It seem the language within both Matthew 27:32 and Mark 15:21 suggests it is compatible with John 19:17 in affirming the truth that Jesus carried the Cross. Note Matthew 27:32 and Mark 15:21 said “His [cross” with the pronoun “His” being possessive, referencing it is that of Jesus. With the sentencing of Jesus to death, this Cross became His since He was carrying it.
- The idea of someone being sentenced carrying his own cross is also recognized and taught by Jesus before His crucifixion in Matthew 10:38, 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23, 14:27. Note how I cited verses from the book of Matthew, Mark and Luke, coming from the very books which the skeptics cited passages saying Simon carried Jesus’ cross. This further suggest Matthew 27:32, Mark 15:21 and Luke 23:26 wasn’t meant to say Jesus did not ever carried HIs own cross at all.
- Don’t forget that punishments was inflicted upon Jesus before He was crucified. Jesus was mocked, whipped, insulted, spit upon, struck and physically assaulted. The idea that Jesus didn’t carry His own cross and someone else carried it the whole time seems implausible contextually. To think of soldiers carrying a cross for the one they crowned with thorns seems unlikely for that mean more work for the Roman soldier; they probably aren’t going to do that for a prisoner they are going to kill. Consider also that Jesus carrying the Cross might be an additional means of punishing Jesus. Of course when Jesus was exhausted because of all that He’s been through before with a sleepless night, secret trial and physical assault somewhere down the road the Roman soldiers forced Simon to carry Jesus’ cross.
- There is no contradiction here. Seems the skeptic needs to learn of How to Handle Bible Contradictions.
- We shouldn’t miss that worldviews are at play even with the skeptic’s objection to Christianity. The worldview of the author of the Skeptic Annotated Bible actually doesn’t even allow for such a thing as the law of non-contradiction to be meaningful and intelligible. In other words for him to try to disprove the Bible by pointing out that there’s a Bible contradiction doesn’t even make sense within his own worldview. Check out our post “Skeptic Annotated Bible Author’s Self-Defeating Worldview.”