By the reckoning of some historians, when it comes to the gospel accounts, we have two eyewitnesses, a scribe, and one contemporary historian who was able to collect the stories and put them in order. It makes a very comprehensive set of documents. They make our job a little more difficult, but why should it be easy?
Now, I have made this point before, but I have to make it again right here. Some people (whose elevator doesn’t go to the top floor) think that contradictions in the gospel accounts invalidate them. Ironically, rather than invalidate them, they confirm them. Let me explain. For the testimony of witnesses to be valid, that testimony must be independent of the testimony of others. The existence of inconsistencies between witness accounts are important because they establish the independence of the sources.
There are also differences that arise from the purpose of the author. Luke says up front that his purpose is to set these things
in order—seemingly, chronological order. Matthew and Mark, however, may have no such intent, and they may group messages and events to make a greater point. So don’t play the fool by nitpicking. Try rather to understand what the witnesses want us to get about Jesus and his work and his message. Now, instead of consulting the scholars first, let’s consult Luke himself…