“The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshipped him, but some hesitated because they were uncertain.” (Matthew 28:16,17)
Shortly before his ascension into heaven, Jesus instructed his disciples on how to continue to reach people with the Gospel. Matthew’s version of these instructions, known as The Great Commission, is found at the very end of his Gospel.
As the reader approaches this familiar Scripture, Matthew includes a detail so stunning it causes us to pause and wonder. It is now forty days after Christ’s resurrection. The eleven disciples had spent considerable time with the risen Jesus since then. Now, as they arrive for their mountaintop meeting with Jesus, Matthew records that “some hesitated.” Let’s put it right out there: some doubted.
How could they doubt? They had witnessed the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies in Jesus’ life, as well as his suffering, dying, and rising again. They had Jesus right before their eyes, in the flesh. They saw him and spoke with him and likely even touched Jesus. How could they possibly doubt?
Christians today know the feeling. God’s Word clearly proclaims the fulfillment of Christ’s saving work and the reality of the resurrection. It is right before our eyes. We hear it with our ears. By grace, we believe it. The splashing water of Baptism and the tangible elements of the Lord’s Supper not only remind us of God’s power, but actually give the very forgiveness won for us by Christ. For many, these are precious truths known all lifelong.
And then doubt rears its ugly head.
God’s people struggle with the sinful nature, an adversarial Satan, and an unsympathetic world. Challenges and difficulties rise up. Even the most faithful Christians cry out with a sinking Peter, “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:30) and with the struggling father, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)
Faith falters. Panic rises. Doubt digs in.
The antidote for doubt is not faith. Faith is involved, certainly, but it is unwise to look inside oneself to measure the quality and quantity of faith. The antidote for doubt is Jesus. Those among the eleven who still struggled with doubt had come to the right place, to the right Person. They had come to worship Jesus.
Believers today follow this example. When doubt dims the light of faith, “fix your eyes on Jesus.” (Hebrew 12:2) Trust him. Listen to him. Take him at his Word. When your focus is on Jesus, doubt fades and faith grows.
Fix your eyes on Jesus,
Pastor Stephen Luchterhand