At the end of Matthew’s gospel we read the testimony of the resurrection of Jesus. And just before the gospel ends with Jesus’ now famous last words commonly referred to as the “Great Commission,” we find this refreshingly honest verse: “And when they saw him they worshipped, but some doubted.” I get it. A dead guy is back to life. This rattles all our assumptions about the natural world, and is quite unbelievable.
Jesus’ closest friends; those same men who had seen Him heal without medicine, catch fish with no bait, walk on water without a floaty, make alcohol without a brewery, and get killed by professional executioners are now seeing the man alive. Seeing Him though, I wonder, what was there to doubt?
Were they mistrusting their senses? Could this be real, or was this a figment of imagination? Was it really Jesus, or just a lookalike? Maybe their doubts were rooted in whether He had actually died and was now alive? Perhaps their doubts were rooted not in His resurrection, but now in His role of fulfilling God’s promises of an everlasting kingdom – was now the time, would peaceful Jesus now assert His will on the earth? What is clear is that there was uncertainty among some that led to the inability to completely trust Jesus and worship Him as the Son of God.
I think that a small measure of uncertainty, a possibility of doubt, regardless of the mounds of evidence will always exist in the equation of our relationship with God – because while alive on earth, doubt is the space where faith is required – and without faith no one can please the Lord. For faith to exist, some uncertainty must also exist.
We do have plenty of reason, plenty of logical thinking, to trust God and worship Jesus. We have scientific reason. The breakthroughs in molecular biology in the past century for example point to an almost computer-like code that builds cells. This densely pack information is highly organized, and seems to have been set in motion with each unique species of life on earth. The mathematical probability of these kind of life-forming processes coming from random chance without intelligence is essentially impossible.
In another field of scientific study, and thanks to technological advances like the Hubble telescope, which is able to measure background microwave radiation, we’ve also learned that the universe is expanding, and had a starting point. If the universe is not eternal, that begs the question – what caused the “big bang,” or perhaps, who caused it? Scientific evidence, objectively assessed, without the driving force of some underlying agenda, points us to a Creator. Yet even if this is true, there will always be some line of thinking that casts doubt: maybe we just haven’t discovered enough yet, maybe we will be able to prove the spontaneous development of universes with no cause, maybe something can come from nothing?
Another reason to worship Jesus is the historical and archeological reason found in the integrity and uniqueness of the Bible. The more we are able to dig up from the earth, the more the people, places and content of the Bible are validated. Thanks to discoveries in the last century, we can be more confident than ever that what we have today in the Bible is what those original authors were inspired to write.
On top of that, the Bible is unique in all the world in its predictive prophecies, most of which have come true already. The majority of God telling the future has to do with telling us what to look for when the Messiah is sent. Look for a virgin to give birth to a son, in Bethlehem before 70 AD, to name a few. How could the 40 different authors of the 66 books of the Bible who wrote on three continents, in three languages, spanning some 1,500 years forge such a unified masterpiece that also predicts the future and so clearly revolves around one person – Jesus – without supernatural direction?
Despite this evidence, there is room for doubt. What makes the Bible different from other religious books out there? How can we tell for sure that what is in the Bible is what Jesus really said? How do we know things weren’t tampered with or changed? Can we address all of these with 100 percent certainty? These are good questions, and we can’t prove some of these things, which creates an opportunity for faith. My point is we should expect doubt, even when we have good reason to believe.
Putting our faith in Jesus means giving our hearts to Jesus and surrendering our will to Jesus. This pleases God because He wants more than our minds. He wants to be the biggest part of our lives. He wants us to know His love. Perhaps for some of us, we doubt that. How could God want to know us and love us? This is unbelievable, but that’s the way it works. Step into the unbelievable, step into His love for you, step into faith, and see if He doesn’t answer your questions along the way.