Have you ever been in utter disbelief about something? Maybe you learned a crazy fact or you witnessed a miracle. Maybe you went through a terrible loss, and you literally could not believe it happened. How did this unbelief contribute to your actions? Depending on the situation, you may have been screaming with excitement or without words. It may have caused irreplaceable joy or devastating sorrow. The disciples experienced all of those emotions as they watched their teacher, mentor, and Messiah go through crucifixion. As they fled their master during his persecution, they gave into the doubt they may have been struggling with up to that point. It began to consume them. Throughout this whole chapter, people struggle with belief. They struggled to believe that all of the things Jesus had told them before his crucifixion would come to pass. Even as it was happening, they failed to realize that all these events were precisely as Jesus had said they would be.
This is such a great story to read in the Easter and Lent season as it focuses on Jesus’ life on earth after the resurrection. Some of the first people Jesus appeared to were believers on the road to Emmaus. They were talking about everything that happened to Jesus when he himself appeared to them on the road. But, Jesus was disguised so they did not recognize him. He asked what they were talking about and they could not believe he didn’t know. They explain everything and how they had hoped the Messiah would redeem Israel from its enemies, specifically the Romans. They even shared that the body of Jesus was nowhere to be found. Luke 24:25-27 says, “He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” And once they realized he was Jesus, and at that moment, He disappeared from their sight. Verse 32 says, “They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
Then, they believed, which is great but Jesus had already told them what was going to happen to him and that he would be raised again. That is why Jesus calls them foolish. Let’s read what Jesus said as He appeared to a group of His disciples for the first time since His death and resurrection. Luke 24:36-44 says, “While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence. He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms.”
Everything leading up to Christ’s death on the cross showed them He was the Christ. He had fulfilled many prophecies and performed many healings. He had introduced a kingdom culture that stood in stark contrast to their worldly culture. Jesus told them in Luke chapter 9 that He must “suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.” Then, exactly what he said would happen, happened. He was killed. They just needed to wait for the third day for him to be raised. But, the disciples had either forgotten his words or chosen not to believe in them. How often do we do this? How often do we forget the promises of God’s word, or choose not to believe them? Maybe we are not verbally saying we do not believe them, however, our actions show otherwise. Many of us struggle with doubts. And as long as we keep bringing them to God, that’s okay. He can handle it. We do not stay in our place of doubt. We confess and worship through them until we get to the other side.
I love what one man said to Jesus in Mark 9, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” as he begged Jesus to heal his son. What a beautiful attitude! Acknowledging his unbelief before the Lord; those little doubts, those parts of his heart and mind that struggled to accept the truth, he admitted his need for help to overcome it. We can have that same attitude. One of the beautiful things about Lent and the Easter season is that it brings us back to remembrance of what Christ did on the cross. And we know the story doesn't end there. Jesus Christ was in fact raised from the dead on the third day as he told his disciples. As we are in this easter season, instead of getting trapped by doubt or unbelief, focus on what Christ did 2000 years ago! Focus on the fact that He did what He said He was going to do. If He was faithful to his promises then, He will be faithful now. Our God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. We can rest in and celebrate that promise as there is no reason to live in unbelief and doubt