What really happened at the party

I can tell you with certainty. Even though I wasn’t there.

Underwater.jpg

It was 1997. Her sixteenth birthday party. The Romeo and Juliet album was on repeat, and there may or may not have been West Coast Coolers hiding in the punch.

I also know that Catherine ended up in the pool and had to be fished out unceremoniously. How do I know this? Eyewitnesses.

The frisson of delicious gossip come Monday morning at school meant I could listen to all of the versions of this outrageous event and piece together the truth. I can tell you that Catherine drank too much punch and then climbed the little ladder and jumped into the pool fully clothed. In the early hours of the morning.

(I can also tell you she was so busted.)

I’m sharing this with you because of what I discovered reading the Bible today. I wanted to look up the bit where Jesus says it’s not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick, and I found it in three different spots! I snooped further and found that these three spots spoke about the one event:


Jesus eating with the tax collectors

Exhibit A:

Matthew 9:9-13 | 9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’[a] For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Exhibit B:

Mark 2:13-17 | 13 Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. 14 As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.

15 While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Exhibit C:

Luke 5:27-32 | 27 After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, 28 and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.

29 Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. 30 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”

31 Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”


I felt a bit confused (and a bit excited too, like I’d just made a significant discovery.) Why not just have the one record? Why bother having three different accounts of the same event, which could create confusion and introduce inconsistencies—and even doubt—to the story?

Looking online and going through my notes from Life, I had a moment of clarity: it gives the story credibility.

Even—especially—the inconsistencies add cred; if three people gave you an identical account of an event, wouldn’t you wonder whether they’d colluded beforehand?

I’m off to look for more examples. Standby.