The Doubting Disciples

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

He appeared to them and rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart.
(Mark 16:15)

Man always doubts the Promised word,
God has to take the initiative;
We always need to be assured . . .
Lord, why is it so hard 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)


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 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 great trauma in their simple un-complicated 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,” we say, 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? 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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