If we didn’t know what happened next, these would be some of the saddest verses in the Bible.
Jesus had hand-picked 12 men to walk with him, serve beside him, and learn from him.
They had seen him defy gravity on a stormy sea, control nature’s fury, cure the incurable, and raise the four-days-dead.
He had even warned them in advance that he was going to be killed but that he would rise again.
In spite of all that, notice their response when the early reports of Jesus’ resurrection started trickling in:
Now when he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. She went and told those who had been with him, as they mourned and wept. But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it. After these things he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them (Mark 16:9-13).
“They would not believe it.”
“They did not believe them.”
After all they had seen?
It’s easy for me to point an accusing finger at the apostles, though. I’ve got the complete Bible, the whole story, God’s explanation of his long-held secret about salvation.
They didn’t have that.
All they knew in these hours of confusion, terror, and uncertainty was that the one they’d put their hope in was dead.
And not just dead, but crucified, ignominiously, shamefully.
When a group of women and a couple of disciples started saying they’d seen Jesus alive again, they didn’t believe it.
They couldn’t believe it.
And to be honest, we’ve been right there with them.
We’ve had our times when we doubted and questioned and feared.
Did he really come out of the tomb?
Is he real?
The crucial thing for us, as it was for them, is to keep our eyes open.
There’s plenty of evidence of an empty tomb, and the disciples soon couldn’t deny that Jesus was alive.
Today we can’t see him as they did.
We can’t touch him as Thomas did.
But if our hearts are open to faith, we can still know he’s real.
We can still be certain that what Mary said was true.