The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed! Amazing, wonderful, incredible… almost unbelievable!
Can the dead be resurrected from the grave? Is this incredible promise of Easter too good to be true?
Even the 11 disciples of Christ found this hard to believe. They had their doubts. Who wouldn’t? After all, they had witnessed the bloody crucifixion of Jesus just a few days earlier.
Jesus was placed in a tomb, the equivalent of our modern cremation ceremony. So even though they now saw, with their own eyes, Jesus standing there before them on a mountain in Galilee, they couldn’t fully believe what they were seeing.
The New International Version (NIV) translation quoted above implies that some of the 11 disciples worshiped while others doubted. That may be correct. But I wouldn’t judge too harshly the ones who doubted. They were not gullible, naïve, unthinking simpletons. No, those early disciples knew as well as we do that dead men usually stay dead.
But the NIV translators may have missed Matthew’s point in verse 17. It is possible to translate the Greek verse as follows: “When they saw him, they worshiped him, but they had doubts.”
If this is correct, it illustrates what may well be true of some, or perhaps many, of us today. Yes, we worship God faithfully Sunday after Sunday. We may also be disciples of Christ who serve alongside our fellow disciples. But we may still have doubts. Some things still seem too wonderful and incredible to believe. Conviction with crystal clarity is rare, and is not required for worship.
We see only partially, we know only partially (1 Corinthians 13:9), so we should not be surprised if we believe only partially. Let us not be too quick to condemn those who doubt. Instead, as Jude 1:22 says (in the NIV again, which here I think is correctly translated): “Be merciful to those who doubt.” (NIV)
We may have our doubts in our faith journeys, but they need not stop us from worshipping Jesus, the risen Christ.
The Rev Dr Gordon Wong –
was re-elected President of Trinity Annual Conference (TRAC) in 2016 for a second quadrennial term, but is primarily grateful to God for the gift of his wife Lai Foon and two children Deborah and Jeremy.
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