Matthew 28:16-17 esv:
“16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.”
They were “standing in two ways.” Doubt. Uncertainty.
They had seen a resurrection before, in Lazarus. But they were not as emotionally tied to him as to Jesus. Jesus was wrenched from them. And now he is back? After 3 days? Yes.
So being uncertain isn’t really concerning. But the doubt needs resolution. And so Jesus stayed with them and appeared many times over 40 days. Their doubts went away.
And remember even in the room when he appeared to them in Luke 24:36-43 they were thinking they were seeing a ghost. And doubts rose in their minds. And they had already been told by several people, including the two on the road to Emmaus. But Jesus does not rebuke them really. He asks them a question about this, which is for them to think through. But notice how he reaches out to them in their doubt and helps them: Luke 24:37-42 esv
“37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.””
So he shows them his hands and feet. And he asks them to touch him. And he reasons with them. He is really helping them. But still they did not believe because of “joy and amazement.” It was too good to be true. So he does a very simple thing. He eats some food in front of them. Ghosts don’t do that.
40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence.
So Jesus helped them with doubt. And he will help us.
Now a different issue is UNBELIEF.
In Mark 16 it describes that the Apostles did not believe Mary Magdalene or the two walking in the country. And it says this in verse 14: “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.”
Notice he rebukes them. THIS unbelief on their part is unacceptable. They should have believed these testimonies. And Jesus had told them ahead of time. Understand that overcoming the shock of having him torn away was hard, but they also had been told more than once by Jesus that this was going to happen, that he would die and then rise from the dead. Thus, their lack of faith is not ok. And others had seen him, and they refused to believe.
Unbelief and doubt are not on the same plane as far as God is concerned.
One can be helped: doubt. Just look for the evidence to solve your question.
- Do you have doubts? Look for the evidence that will answer your question. God will graciously help you find the answers you are looking for.
Unbelief in the light of sufficient evidence, however, is a problem.
- Are you unbelieving? If you are unwilling to follow Jesus, or change in some area as his follower, even if sufficient evidence is given, your intellectual questions are a smoke screen for the truth: you don’t want to believe. You are UNWILLING to believe. This is wrong.
- Repent of unbelief. If you are unsure, and doubting, simply ask the Lord to help you find the truth.