Have you ever doubted? If you have, you're not alone. Sometimes it's the wise thing to do. But did Jesus' disciples ever doubt?
"Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshiped him: but some doubted." (Matthew 28:16-17)
Many people have placed faith in Jesus only to lose that faith later when they find out the Jesus they thought they knew is not who he claimed to be. Are you one of those?
Believe it or not, even some disciples of the real Jesus found themselves doubting when they saw him face-to-face after his resurrection. In the book of Matthew, we read that, on one particular occasion, after meeting up with the disciples at a predetermined location, most of them worshiped but "some doubted."
Wait. How is this possible? Weren't these the same guys who saw Jesus appear to them when they were hiding, afraid for their lives (Luke 24:36; John 20:19)? Even doubting Thomas finally believed (John 20:28), so who were the ones doubting in Matthew 28? Could it have been one of them? Possibly. Or maybe even one someone who may have tagged along.
Here's what I think happened. The disciples were gathered together, Jesus miraculously appeared and, before he could speak, the crowd began to worship him. Some, however, were a little skeptical; they had seen fakes, charlatans and impostors before. Who's to say what they saw was really Jesus himself?
What convinced the doubters? I believe it was when Jesus spoke.
"And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth" (Matthew 28:18).
It's not like this was the first time Jesus appeared to the disciples, causing not only doubt but also stark terror. Remember when he walked on water? The disciples saw him walking on the sea and they were troubled, saying, "It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear" (Matthew 14:26). It took Jesus speaking to calm down the frightened boatmen.
"But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid" (Matthew 14:27).
Is it possible that some disciples who were present when Jesus met with them during the Transfiguration on the mountain had a right to be skeptical? I mean, hey, wasn't it Jesus himself who earlier warned the disciples that "false Christs" and "false prophets" would arise, deceivers so convincing that, "if it were possible, they [would] deceive the very elect" (Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:22)?
Matthew doesn't exactly say what happened to those who doubted, but I have my suspicions. Again, when Jesus spoke, perhaps their doubts disappeared. On the other hand, if they still doubted, maybe they were only there for the bagels and mountain air.
"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand" (John 10:27-28).
It was never Jesus' plan to convince the world of who he was by physically appearing to everyone. As a matter of fact, Jesus told Thomas, "because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed" (John 20:29).
"The Word was made flesh" (John 1:1) and gave us his word (the Bible). So, when in doubt, read and listen to his voice.
Anthony Baker is pastor at Riverside Baptist Church.