The four Gospels offer eye-witness accounts that vary in ways that are often difficult to reconcile. The Bible’s critics cite these apparent discrepancies as reason to question the Bible’s reliability.
The other side of the coin, however, is that these reporting differences reflect a lack of cover-up by an early Christian community.
In addition, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all seem to have slightly different reasons for arranging their summaries of Jesus life as they do. It’s not as if all four are giving us a chronological timeline for all that Jesus said and did.
The fact that we have four different summary accounts is a wonderful gift. Being able to see that all of them agree on the basic facts of Jesus life is far more important than knowing how to reconcile the differences we find in them.
Note: For example, the Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics gives the following example:
Quote: Each New Testament writer tells a crucial and overlapping part of the whole story…
There are minor discrepancies in the Gospel accounts. One account (Matt. 28:5) says there was one angel at the tomb; John says there were two angels (John 20:12). Such conflicts are not contradictions in that they are not irreconcilable. Matthew does not say there was only one angel there; that would be a contradiction. We are uncertain of whether the two texts are speaking of the same moments.” (End of quote– Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics”