Wednesday, February 05, 2020

"In God We Doubt"

Matthew 28.16-17 AMP

“Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed and made appointment with them. And when they saw Him, they fell down and worshiped Him; but some doubted.”

These are curious verses. Some among the original “eleven disciples” actually doubted. Why would these men doubt when the risen Christ was standing before them? Could it be…

  • The doubting disciples concluded that Jesus never actually died if He was alive and now speaking to them (e.g., the doubters questioned the reality of Christ’s death)?
  • The risen Jesus was not the pre-crucified Jesus they remembered (e.g., they doubted the resurrection assuming the man before them was not really Jesus)?

Exactly what was “doubted” by “some” of the “eleven?” Was it the death or the resurrection of Jesus? Neither option seems plausible to me. The disciples should have known what Jesus looked like. The women at the tomb, “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary,” recognized the resurrected Christ immediately (Matthew 28.1-10). Likewise, it could take even more faith to believe that Jesus survived the crucifixion, than to accept His death and resurrection. So why would “some [have] doubted” and precisely what was in doubt?

I think all eleven of the disciples knew the man standing before them was, in fact, the authentic and risen Jesus Christ. They had every good reason to believe their eyes and ears, yet “some doubted.”

The fact that some disciples doubted the obvious should not surprise us. Doubt does not have to make sense. Doubt is a powerful force which can, and often does, override reason. A miraculous intervention by God makes no difference to the confirmed doubter. Even a personal visitation from the risen Christ will not change a doubter’s mind. 

Jesus explained this phenomenon in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man tried reasoned, “I have five brothers... warn them.”  But Abraham said, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”

No one can prove faith. Doubt cannot be overcome with solid reasoning or miraculous intervention. Not even God can make a doubter believe. Only the doubter can stop his doubting, and choose instead to believe the obvious. 

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