Read This Week: Matthew 28
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:16-20 NIV
Have you ever wondered what it must have been like to be a disciple after the resurrection? It must have been terrifying, exciting, and awe-inspiring at the same time to witness the arrest of Jesus, know of His violent death on the cross, be aware that He had been buried in a borrowed tomb, and then see Him alive again. Then the mind goes to what it must have been like to be on that mountain in Galilee when Jesus laid out his mission for the world. Ideally, one would hope to be eager, prepared, and full of anticipation and reverence. But reality indicates that we would be probably somewhere in the variance of worship and doubt like the disciples.
In Matthew 28, Jesus had been raised from the dead and appeared to many. He then told his followers to go to the precise place where he wanted to commission them for His work on earth. Then verse 17 tells us of the mixed reaction of the remaining 11 disciples:
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.
Some worshiped, and some doubted. The word doubt in this context means “to hesitate or be uncertain.” They held their belief in Jesus, but their hesitation and lack of faith prevented them from worshipping him. And this lack of worship could hinder their effectiveness on their mission.
But Jesus speaks into them with all of His divine authority that we saw in the last chapter and says:
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations and baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Like us, even when the faith of the disciples was sincere, it was weak and shaky. Yet Christ gives them convincing proof of his resurrection and the authority of His word, so their faith could triumph over doubt. He does the same thing for us. He gives us His Word as undeniable proof and the power available to us to carry out His eternal and purposeful mission on earth. The Bible and Holy Spirit empower us to do life with God, and when they fill us, we transform from doubters into worshippers who share the Good News with others.
The contrast of reactions in the disciples can be a microcosm of our Christian experience. In a moment, the Gospel eternally alters our lives. Jesus saves and changes us by his resurrection power. He reveals Himself in ways we cannot imagine while calling us to be on a mission with Him. All the while, some worship, and some doubt. The church is filled with worshippers and doubters, redeemed people exercising faith in Christ or a debilitating lack of it. But believers have the constant presence of God to counter human, emotional doubt. There is no day or hour that the Lord Jesus is not present with His church and the family of God. Jesus makes this promise in verse 20: And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
The prayer of Christians should be that we not get caught up long in the discrepancy of worship and doubt. We must stay connected and seek God constantly, so our role in His mission for the world is not hindered by ambiguous faith. The desire of our heart should be for Jesus to receive glory in the world through our worship. And in every area of our lives, allow Him to help us be worshippers and not doubters.