Why do details sometimes differ from one Gospel account to another?

Mark 1:12-13

Mark omits many details that Matthew and Luke include in their accounts of Jesus’ temptation. Just as various witnesses have individual perspectives on an event, the Gospel writers draw on their own backgrounds and write from their own viewpoints for their particular audience.

Of greater concern than the amount of coverage are the apparent discrepancies in the accounts themselves. For instance, Matthew and Luke seem to rearrange the sequence of these events. Matthew says Jesus was tempted: (1) to turn stones into bread; (2) to leap from the temple; and (3) to worship the devil so all the kingdoms of the world would be given to him. Luke changes the order of the second and third temptation.

Ancient cultures did not feel compelled to relate events in chronological sequence. Some think Matthew may have listed the temptations in chronological order while Luke listed them in order of significance. Though the details vary according to individual Gospel writers, the essence of the information is consistent. There is no real contradiction between these accounts.

This devotion is from The Quest Study Bible by Zondervan. Used with permission.