If you place so much faith on the reliability of the synoptic Gospels and
refuse to accept that they are not plain eyewitness statements,how do you
account for the blatant contradiction between John 19:17 and Matt. 27:32 ?


Jesus carried the cross-beam. Notice, it said “As they were going out.”
Most likely, Jesus was so exhausted from being nearly beaten to death that
it became apparent that he would literally not be able to carry it to the
crucifixion. It would be very embarassing to the Roman soldiers if Jesus
died before reaching the execution place. He had to be crucified. For
this reason, when Jesus collapsed, they chose an innocent bystander, Simon
the Cyrene, to carry it for him. I will admit that this is to some extent
the Roman Catholic version of events. I do not know for sure that Simon
of Cyrene was forced to carry it the rest of the way because Jesus had
collapsed, but it is a reasonable conjecture. What is for sure is that
the eye-witnesses reported that Jesus carried his cross (John 19:17), and
that Simon was forced to carry it part of the way (Matthew 27:32 and Luke

As I have said before, the differences in the eye-witness accounts is
evidence, not of mistakes, but of independent witness. I believe I shared
with you earlier that I was a juror in a trial two years ago. Each
eye-witness to the brutal beating provided dramatically different details,
yet we, as jurors, felt the correct overall picture was created by
listening to all the witnesses. In fact, Mark provides additional
details. He tells us that Simon the Cyrene was the father of Alexander
and Rufus. Most scholars believe Mark provided these details because
Simon and his two sons were very well known Christians in the first
century. Fairly likely, the Rufus in Romans 16:13 is the same man. It
is very likely that Mark was in Rome, as Paul specifically mentions him in
2 Tim 4:11. Probably, Mark, the gospel writer, mentions Rufus and
Alexander because they were friends of his. It is as if he is saying, “If
you are not sure about this, ask Rufus.”

John Oakes

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