Sunday, September 13, 2009
A surprise in Matthew
I've just finished Matthew again, and once again, I found something I've not seen before.
Look for yourself. Matthew 28:17
"When they saw him, they worshiped him -- but some of them doubted."
After Jesus death, the eleven disciples went to Galilee, (just as Jesus had instructed them through the women who had visited the empty tomb). There, they saw Him, the risen Lord, exactly as He planned.
But some of them doubted.
Can you believe it? These guys had hung out for at least three years together. They'd eaten and slept and ministered together day in and day out. If anyone should have recognized the risen Lord, it should have been these guys. After all, these guys were the inner circle.
And after his death, they trot off to Galilee, where they see the risen Christ, in person. And some of them -- doubted?
What is that about?
I don't know exactly. But I do have some thoughts. For one, isn't it interesting that Matthew could have left this detail out? It would have made more sense (if he were writing propaganda, anyway) to leave it out. Wouldn't you? If you were writing simply to convince someone of a false story, wouldn't you tell them that "everyone believed?"
But Matthew doesn't sacrifice accuracy for the sake of believability. I think that small detail tells us that he must have had a commitment to truth, and thus, we can conclude that he has told the WHOLE truth to the best of his ability. Matthew told us even the difficult details.
Secondly, I think it tells us something about human nature. How many times have we thought, "If only I'd have walked with Jesus, this whole faith thing would be so easy. I wouldn't struggle with doubt."
Doubt is part of our walk. Not because we believe in something false, or because we are stupid and foolish, but because we believe in something that is completely impossible. What kind of idiot believes that a dead man can be raised? It's impossible.
We have to acknowledge that simple fact. It IS ABSOLUTELY impossible.
But with God, impossible things are quite possible.
And sometimes, even in the face of those quite impossible things, we may pinch ourselves, thinking, "Can this be true?"
It isn't always easy to believe. But of course, if it were easy, it wouldn't take faith.
The take away? When you doubt, don't beat yourself up; remember the eleven. They struggled with doubt. You are in very good company. But do remember this:
Jesus said in John chapter 20:29,
"You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who haven't seen me and believe anyway."
Be blessed and believe.