The Doubting Disciples

Mark 16: 9-15
Acts 4:13-21 / Ps 118

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”
(Mark 16:15)

Man always doubts the Promised word,
God has to take the initiative;
We always need to be assured...
Why do we find it hard to believe?

Now after He had risen early on the first day of the week, He first appeared to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons. She went and reported to those who had been with Him, while they were mourning and weeping. When they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they refused to believe it. After that, He appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking along on their way to the country. They went away and reported it to the others, but they did not believe them either. Afterward He appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at the table; and He reproached them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who had seen Him after He had risen. And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” (Mark 16:9-15)


Why did the apostles find it hard to believe that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead? Everything that the Lord told them would happen was fulfilled. He told them that He would be handed over to the Jews to be crucified and killed, and it happened. He told them that one of them would betray Him, and Judas did. He prophesied Peter’s denial before the cock crowed, and Peter’s cowardice came like clockwork. He brought Lazarus back to life, so why couldn’t they believe that He Who claimed to be the Resurrection and the Life could bring about His own resurrection?

There was good reason why the disciples preferred to doubt their companions who had seen the risen Lord, and Jesus’ assurance Himself that He would rise again from the dead. Most of them had already undergone a great trauma in their simple uncomplicated lives. When their Master died, they were like sheep scattered without a shepherd, some hiding out in their homes, others escaping into the countryside. But at least the turmoil was over. They could now begin again to pick up the pieces of their former lives, and go back to their old familiar haunts. Jesus’ coming back from the dead would mean that they could not go back to their comfortable past — it meant the dawning of a new era, a fearful future that they, the chosen ones were going to spearhead. The Holy Spirit had not yet come to inspire and embolden them. That was why they were afraid, and why they would readily doubt than believe.

It is human nature to doubt and be skeptical about things in the realm of the unknown. “Let the young ones do it, they are more bold and dynamic,” we say, or else, “Let the more senior members handle it– they have more experience.” Why do we doubt? Isn’t faith in our capabilities, and faith in our God enough? If we have true faith then there is no reason to be afraid, no reason to be skeptical or doubt. There is every reason to say, “Yes, Lord, I do believe!”

Forgive us, Lord, whenever we doubt your love, or our capacity to follow Your Will. Help us to realize that in our mission there is no such thing as “can’t” or “won’t” when we are working for Your kingdom. Grant us the wisdom and humility to accept what we cannot understand, that we may put our trust in You. AMEN.

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