When the women went to the tomb on the first day of the week, they did not expect to find an empty tomb. they expected trouble with the guards, difficulty moving the stone, and the hard task of preparing the body of the one they loved for burial. What they found were guards on the ground, the stone rolled away, and an angel telling them that Christ had risen from the dead. They saw the empty place where he had been laid, but they did not yet believe that he had risen. mark tells us they fled in terror.
Then Jesus appeared to the women. Then they believed, and told the disciples. The disciples did not believe them. Jesus appeared to the two disciples traveling to Emmaus. They had been heartbroken, and even while he spoke to them of the scriptures, they did not believe. Then he revealed himself to them. They believed, and told the disciples. The disciples did not believe these witnesses either. Finally Jesus comes and speaks to the disciples directly. In other gospel accounts he has to eat something before they believe it is really him and not a ghost or hallucination.
The disciples did not believe the testimony of their fellow Christ-followers. Jesus had told them that he would die at the hands of sinful men and be resurrected on the third day. He warned them. He promised them, and when it happened they did not believe. In our church traditions, Thomas gets a bad rap. He did not believe until Jesus showed him his hands and feet and placed his hand on the wound in his side. For that lack of faith, we call him Doubting Thomas. But here the rest of the disciples stand not believing. We should call them the doubting disciples and give poor Thomas a break!
Maybe we should give them all a break. When the impossible happens, when we see things that just should not be, we all have a tendency to disbelieve. If you told me your dog sang the star spangled banner, I think I would disbelieve. This is even greater than that. Jesus hung on a Roman cross. They all saw him. His body was marred and disfigured. He lost pint after pint of blood.
I know that these people had seen him raise the dead before at least three times, but those were all people who died of sickness. Even that is more believable than coming back from the horrendous death Jesus died. On top of that, Jesus was the one who healed, he was the one who raised others to life. Who could have raised him up?
We know that God raised him to life again. We know that God’s power is not trapped in human flesh. Jesus’ divine power did not disappear when he died. But for those disciples, without the benefit we have of 2,000 years of scholars’ explanations, they believed it was impossible--until they saw Jesus for themselves.
Jesus rebukes them for their lack of faith, but then he commissions these same faithless ones to go and spread the good news of the Gospel. And what is the contingent for receiving salvation? Belief! The very thing Jesus rebuked them for not having just moments before.
I think this is a huge blessing for us! We have times of unbelief in our lives, when things look impossible. When we can’t see a way for it all to work out. Jesus is there to show up in our circumstances and give us the faith we need.
After they believed, they went and told others the good news of the atoning death and victorious resurrection of Jesus. But they did not have to preach in their own strength, God gave them power to do it. He gave signs to back it up. When we walk in faith and obedience, God will supply they power!
Believe! We don’t have to wait to see the impossible before we trust that God is at work. When you are doubting, take it to Jesus. Let him give you faith to go on. Walk in obedience, trusting that God will supply the power to do the work he calls you to! Believe!