Refusal to Believe

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

When they heard that Jesus was alive… they did not believe it.
(Mark 16:11)

Why do we doubt the Promised Word?
Why look for an alternative?
We always need to be assured,
Lord, grant us the grace to believe.

When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had driven seven demons. She went and told those who had been with Him and who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen Him, they did not believe it. Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either. Later, Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; He rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” (Mark 16:9-15)


When Mary Magdalene told the disciples that Jesus had appeared to her they did not believe her. Neither did they believe their two companions who had walked with the Lord on the way to Emmaus, and returned to tell them the good news. It does not say in the Gospel who those two disciples were, but obviously they were part of the Lord’s inner circle of followers whose credibility were unquestionable. Everything that the Lord told the apostles 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 must have been a good reason why His disciples preferred to doubt their companions who had seen the risen Lord, and Jesus’ prophecy 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 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 rather than believe.

It is human nature to doubt and be skeptical about things in the realm of the unknown. Even more so when we know that we are going to be involved in “this new thing”. So we say, “Let the young ones do it, they are more bold,” or “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? Don’t we have true faith? If so, then there is no reason to be afraid, no reason to be skeptical or doubt. There’s 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 must be no such thing as “can’t” or “won’t” when we are working for Your glory. 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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