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Summary: The struggle to believe when the evidence is before us is exemplified by the response of Apostles to the Risen Saviour.

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“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.” [1]

This is shocking! The eleven disciples obeyed the command Jesus had given. Some women had gone to the tomb in order to prepare His body for burial. There hadn’t been time after the crucifixion, and they hoped to be able to assuage their grief by fulfilling the funerary rites. When they arrived at the tomb, they didn’t find His body. Instead, an angel addressed them, commanding them to take a message to His disciples. They reported that the angel said, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you” [MATTHEW 28:5-7].

The strange events weren’t finished, however. The women reported that Jesus Himself met them and spoke to them. Then, He iterated the message that the angel had delivered to them, He said, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me” [MATTHEW 28:10].

The guards had been bruiting about the city a wild story that His disciples came during the night and stole His body away while they slept. Never mind that guards who fell asleep while on post were guilty of a capital offence. If they were actually sleeping, they were to be executed; there could be no appeal. It was apparently worth the risk in their estimate if there was enough money involved.

There was nothing for the disciples to lose, so the eleven did as they were commanded; and they went to Galilee. At the least, it would get them out of the city where things could explode into a riot at any moment. The disciples followed the instructions precisely, arriving at the mountain to which He had previously directed them. There, they saw Jesus. It was actually the Lord who came to them. When they saw Him, all of them worshipped. However, even as they worshipped, some doubted. Think of that! Some doubted despite seeing the Risen Saviour!

Before you begin to think ill of the disciples, recall how Thomas had reacted when the others spoke of seeing the Lord. This is the account as John, Jesus’ cousin, recorded the incident. “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.’

“Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So, the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.’

“Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed’” [JOHN 20:19-29].

SALVATION REQUIRES BELIEVING — No one is set free from sin through their own effort. Those who are saved from sin must believe in Christ as Lord of life. A jailer convicted by the generosity of his former prisoners, asked them what was necessary for him to be saved; the former prisoners replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household” [ACTS 16:31].

Believing the Son of God is the message John delivered as he defined what is necessary for salvation. “Whoever believes in [the Son of God] is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” [JOHN 3:18]. This truth is iterated when John writes, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” [JOHN 3:36].

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