I have a lamp on my desk that has a interesting caution label on the inside. It reads, “CAUTION: To reduce the risk of fire use MAX 60 Watts, Type A.” I for one definitely don’t want fire using my lamp! See, they forgot a comma between the word “fire” and “use”. It should read, “CAUTION: To reduce the risk of fire, use MAX 60 Watts, Type A.” Without that extra comma the sentence says something that makes little sense.
Awhile back I read about a person trying to answer the supposed contradiction between Luke 23:4 and John 20:17. They read:
And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.'”
People say this is a contradiction because Jesus said He would be in Paradise with the man on the cross on that day, but three days later tells Mary He has not yet ascended to His Father. One scholar tried to solve this contradiction by saying that the scribes put the comma in the wrong place.
He says that the verse should say, “Assuredly, I say to you today, you will be with Me in Paradise.” This seemingly solves the contradiction but I doubt its accuracy for two reasons: because these verses don’t contradict each other and because it is out of Jesus’ character.
Of the 76 times the Gospels record Jesus saying, “assuredly, I say to you,” not once does He say “assuredly, I say to you today”. Those odds don’t exactly prove the above scholar’s hypothesis.
I believe these verse don’t contradict each other because Jesus told the thief on the cross that he would be with Him in Paradise that day. And He was. When Jesus died His spirit went to Paradise along with the thief’s. Now, when Jesus was talking to Mary, He told her not to cling to His body because He had not yet ascended to the Father . . . that is, His newly resurrected body had not yet ascended with Him into heaven. Two different events. His spirit’s ascension and His body’s ascension.
So, you can learn two lessons: a) there are no contradictions in God’s Holy Word and b) commas are important!