Why is it that the book of John doesn't mention Jesus' 40 days of temptation in the desert? Moreover, why does John explain seeing Jesus the day after his baptism, when the first three gospels say he was in the desert? John seems to contradict them. -- Schnyeder Destine
Yes, there are a lot of things John doesn't cover, and vice versa--things not in the other three gospels that are in John. The beauty of having four gospels! But John the Baptist did see Jesus at his baptism, right before he went into the desert.... So... no contradiction. Right?
Well yes, he saw Jesus right before he went into the desert in the first three gospels, but in John 1:29-35, it seems as if the day after John baptized Christ, he and his disciples (Andrew and maybe Peter) saw Christ. In the other gospels, Christ is immediately en route to the desert. So I agree that there are gaps in the gospels and that is the blessing of having four, but this gap is filled with another event which is the calling of the first disciples, which contradicts Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
Yes, I see your point. John the Baptist seeing Jesus immediately after his baptism is no problem, but the series of “next days” doesn’t fit neatly into the Synoptic record. Notice that there are four days in John 1. But then John 2 begins with “on the third day.”
I wonder if you have ever read Fee & Stuart, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth? This book is worth its weight in gold. There are three principles in play: selection, arrangement, and adaptation. John’s overall schema is not the same as the synoptic writers’. For example, he has Jesus’ ministry spanning three+ years, where in Matthew, Mark, and Luke it is 1 year. While the chronological differences tend to bother us, they apparently didn't bother most Christians in the past. In fact, an important interpretive principle emerges: Theology is more important than chronology.
In other words, the Bible can still be true without satisfying all our journalistic, investigative, or literary criteria. The Bible is God's word, and one thing we must do is make sense of what has been transmitted through the centuries, not try to force it into any preconceived mold.
If you want to go deeper, the New Testament Interpretation DVD set within the Take AIM! series includes about 10 hours on how to interpret the gospels (in respects like these) and Acts and the letters and the Apocalypse. Also, consider the survey of the New Testament found here.