This Sunday I'm preaching on John 21:1-14, the miraculous catch of fish. I've been asking myself why this miracle is recorded in John's gospel. Here are some thoughts.
What's the Puzzle?
Here's why the question needs asking. The story is a miracle (the catch of fish), and a post-resurrection appearance (“Afterwards Jesus appeared again to his disciples. … This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead”).
As we look at the visit of the Magi in Matthew 2, the obvious lead human characters in the story are Herod, the Magi, and Jesus himself. These are the lead protagonists and antagonists.
Whilst the Jewish priests are more flat, functionary characters, we mustn't miss the contrast Matthew deliberately paints between them and the Magi.
Michael Green comments:
I often hear it said that Luke got his history wrong in Luke 2:1-6. He refers to "the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria". It is said that there was no such census; it never took place.
This is a serious charge to levy against a gospel writer who is historically impeccable when he records any fact for which we have independent records, and who says (Luke 1:1-4) that he worked hard to check everything out with primary eye witnesses.
Much ink has been spilled on this. However, the commentary on Luke by Darrell Bock is thorough and contains a helpful excursus examining this question at length. For my own future reference, and for the benefit of others, here's a summary of his argument.