But They Doubted
Sunday, May 28, 17
Lesson on Matthew 28:16-20
By Elizabeth Dede
That little clause, “but they doubted,” is amazing to me. How could they possibly doubt?
We’ve spent seven weeks since Easter hearing stories of Jesus’ appearing to his disciples. He came to them while they were hiding out, miraculously appearing in the room without even knocking on the locked door. Jesus showed himself to the two disciples who walked with him on the road to Emmaus. He came again to the room so that Thomas could see him. He ate fish so that they would believe. But they doubted.
The week after Easter Sunday we read about Thomas. For him only seeing was believing. For most of us, though, we come to believe when we’re told about something, or when we read about it, or when we hear it on the radio, or see it on TV. Thomas had the eyewitness accounts of the disciples, but he refused to believe. When Jesus did appear to Thomas and said to him, “Touch my hand and side,” he gave Thomas tangible proof that he had been raised from the dead. He did that in front of the other disciples, and Thomas cried out, “My Lord and my God.” But they doubted.
In this story, Jesus wasn’t disappointed in their doubting. He seemed to expect it by this time. In fact, rather than upbraid them, Jesus gave them a very important charge. He told them that he had all power, presumably especially to send them out. And the truth about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection would be shared all over the world. That’s some power. I wonder if the disciples doubted then. Apparently they did not, because the Gospel has spread everywhere.
Although Jesus was about to leave the disciples and ascend to be with the Father, he promised again that he would not leave them alone. He told them that he will always be with them. Here again, Jesus promised the ever-present Holy Spirit, who remains even with us.
So, we have received the charge: Go out and make disciples of all nations, teaching them to observe all that Jesus commanded.
The Holy Spirit helps us to love one another and to love God—what Jesus commanded. That is how we will make disciples. We show our love and other people want that for their lives. They come to believe.
So go, therefore to all nations, to all people everywhere, and teach them to love one another. Then we will have peace and justice and freedom. Then wars will cease and all people will have what they need. Then Jesus will be with us always.