When In Doubt

While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence.

Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God.

Luke 24:36-53

In many, many ways the disciples had it easier than we do. They saw Jesus’s miracles with their own eyes, heard His teaching with their own ears, and touched His risen body with their own hands. All we have to go on is a 1900 year old book written decades after Jesus ascended and the faith in our hearts.

Yet, even after all of the things the disciples experienced, thy had doubts. Even after Jesus came in the flesh, they thought He might be a ghost. Doubts are normal. They don’t make us bad people, and they don’t mean we don’t love God. Doubts just mean we’re human.

So how did the disciples handle their doubt? After Jesus gave them hard evidence, that is. First they listened to His words with open hearts and minds. And as their hearts understood, their minds stopped doubting. Then they praised and worshiped God continually. We can do these things too. When we feel doubtful we can read scripture, keeping our heart open to the Holy Spirit. Then we can rejoice in the love God has for us, praise Him for loving us even when we are full of doubt, and worship Him just because we can.

 

Side note: What did it look like when Jesus ascended? Did He just kind of rise up into the sky? Did Heaven open up? Did He just kind of disappear in a poof? Whatever it was must have been pretty miraculous, because the disciples never seem to have doubted that. 

Another side note: Notice how, unlike in the other Gospels, in Luke Jesus tells the disciples to stay put until they’ve been “clothed with power”? That’s because the author is setting us up for a sequel, the book of Acts, also written by him.

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