Not enough time to really dig in this morning and study the chronology of Jesus’ post resurrection appearances. But if Galilee was a bit of a trek from the empty tomb it seems that the resurrection appearances Jesus made to His disciples behind closed doors, and on the road to Emmaus had already taken place before the meeting recorded in my reading this morning. And it’s not really clear to me whether Jesus met with just the eleven on the mount in Galilee or whether there was a greater band of disciples present . . . though I think it could have been when “He appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time” (1Cor. 15:6). Regardless, there was a reunion at that mountain in Galilee. And while there was a great celebration there was also, for some at least, a measure of skepticism. So, it seems, seeing is not necessarily believing.
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw Him they worshiped Him, but some doubted.
(Matthew 28:16-17 ESV)
Time for a praise party! When they saw Jesus they worshiped. When they encountered the risen Christ I wouldn’t be surprised if there were raised hands and bowed knees . . . if some stood lifting their faces to heaven and some went prostrate with their faces to the ground . . . if some blessed God and others remained silent in inexpressible awe and wonder. It’s kind of what you might expect of those who had hoped in Jesus, seen Him crucified, and now were standing before Him in all His resurrection beauty.
But, Matthew records, some doubted. Some wavered in their opinion of what they saw. Some weren’t so sure. This is what makes me think there was a greater group present. I think the eleven had worked through their doubts during previous encounters with the living Christ, thanks in large part to Thomas (John 20:24-28). But, whoever was there, some doubted.
Doubted what? That He was alive? That He was ever really dead? That this was really Him and not just a spirit or apparition? I don’t know. But there they were and there He was and still some doubted.
And it’s got me thinking . . . how many will make the trek to a place of worship this weekend to celebrate and worship the risen Christ and yet will doubt?
Doubt that they will encounter Him though He has promised to be where His people gather. Doubt that they can really know Him though He said He would send His Spirit to testify of Him. Doubt that they are worthy to be in His presence though He has said He died for them and that, in Him, they would be robed with His righteousness. Doubt that they really need to worship Him, and Him alone, but can fit Him in along with all their other gods.
O, that this Sunday God’s people would see Jesus . . . and worship Him . . . and not doubt. That those outside the faith who attend celebrations of the empty tomb would be graced by God with eyes to see and ears to hear, and that the hardness of unbelief would be shed.
That we would not glibly or mindlessly go through the motions this Resurrection Sunday, but would gather together expectantly. And not doubt. But worship. And though, not seeing, we would be believing.
He is Risen!
By His grace . . . for His glory.