I was listening to Woodrow Kroll on the radio today and something he said made me think. He was giving a little sermon on how we need to step out of our comfort zones when we evangelize. He talked of a day in the life of Jesus, in this case a day as related to us by Mark in his first chapter, verses 14-45. In this 24 hour period Jesus recruited Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John, taught at the synogogue in Capernaum, exorcised an evil spirit there, visited Simon Peter’s home and healed his mother in law, then went out and healed many people from the town. The next morning he got up before dawn and prayed in solitude. Afterwards he travelled through out the Galilee region, healing the sick and exorcising many demons, eventually healing one particular man of leprosy.
Kroll’s point here (and I think it is a good one) is that even Jesus, in order to do his work, needed to spend some time alone with God the Father. How else could he, as a man, have made it through such a grueling schedule? And if we are sure to ‘recharge’ our spiritual batteries with some one-on-one time with God, then we too can accomplish much more than we could ever imagine.
But is it realistic to believe that Jesus accomplished all of these things in one day? I think it is likely that what we have here is an example of poetic license. Each gospel version must be a condensed account of what actually happened, winnowing down the events of Jesus’ ministry into vignettes that are easy to digest and share with others. In this example from Mark. almost all the major points of Jesus’ ministry are covered in one particular “day”.
Of course it could’ve happened precisely as written, but what of all the other days contained within the one to three years of Jesus ministry? Was every day filled to the brim with miracles and preaching, a whirlwind of activity? Or were there brief periods of intensity seperated by long interludes? We do not know because the gospel accounts leave a lot of Jesus’ time unaccounted for.
My point is this; we do not need to accept the telling of the Gospels as 100% accurate in their descriptions to understand and accept the teachings of Jesus. This is why we can have such apparent discrepencies between the four Gospels and still see each of them as true and believable.