Wineskins Archive

December 18, 2013

The Apostles Doubted (Sept-Dec 2010)

Filed under: — @ 9:39 am and

by Edward Fudge
November 7, 2010

The statement seems so out of place . . . unexpected . . . counter-productive. Yet there it is, immediately before Matthew reports Jesus charging his original band of disciples in the words we sometimes call the Great Commission. “The eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee,” Matthew writes, “to the mountain which Jesus had designated. And when they saw him, they worshiped; but some were doubtful” (Matt. 28:16-17). Who was doubtful? Some of these eleven men, hand-picked by Jesus to be his student-apprentices, to live with him for three years. These men who saw — up close and personal — his awesome (“wonders”) power-events (“miracles”) that indicated his divine identity and mission (“signs”).

Mary Magdalene tells the eleven disciples that she has seen the Lord. They refuse to believe it. (Mark 16:11). Two others encounter Jesus, then tell the eleven, who do not believe them either (Mark 16:13). Jesus himself appears to the eleven, scolds them for their unbelief, and instructs them to make disciples of all the nations, baptizing and teaching all that Jesus has taught them (Mark 16:14-16; Matt. 28:18-19). Signs will follow those who believe, Jesus says (Mark 16:17-18). Hopefully these doubting disciples will come to fit that description.

Within weeks, the apostles will be among those who receive the Holy Spirit in a special way at Pentecost and their doubt will give way to new and holy boldness (Acts 2). But for now some of them are not at all sure. Our weaknesses do not disqualify us as God’s agents. Nor do our occasional doubts. The same Spirit that worked through Peter, Matthew, John and the others then will also empower and work through us. The risen Jesus will be with us every new day that comes, until the very consummation of the age (Matt. 28:20). Do you believe it?

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