Some of my favorite verses in the Bible come at the end of Matthew 28. You know the scene: Jesus has risen, and is on top of the mount in Galilee with the disciples. In mere moments, He will ascend to His Father. Before He leaves, Jesus has some final instructions for His followers…
I can hear you now: Well, duh, Kim! You’re going to be a full-time missionary, so of course you love this. It’s kind of a job requirement, isn’t it?
As much as I love The Great Commission – and, I truly do! – the verses that fill me with hope are the ones just in front of it:
“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.” (Matt. 28:16-17)
Did you get that? Some doubted. Some doubted! Let’s take a moment to review:
These eleven had walked dusty roads with Jesus for three years. They had witnessed Him driving out demons, healing the sick, teaching with authority and power, crossing racial and cultural barriers to eat with sinners, heal Gentiles, and accept water from a Samaritan woman. The disciples had watched Him clear the temple in righteous anger, confront the legalistic Pharisees, change water to wine, and raise Lazarus (and others!) from the dead. They had been in the Upper Room when He washed their feet, shared a final Last Supper, and prayed for them. They had scattered and fled in terror as He was betrayed by one of their own, arrested, and led away to a gruesome death by crucifixion.
Huddled and hiding in a room, they had heard the women share the unbelievable story of meeting the angels sitting at the empty tomb. Mary, who had been freed of demons at His command, said she had actually spoken to Him! Then, despite the locked door, Jesus Himself appeared in the room with them. Not a ghost, He ate with them, showing them His hands and side. Just as He had told them, again and again, He had died and then risen again on the third day.
And now, here they were, one less than before, in front of their resurrected Lord. He had proven Himself to be exactly who He claimed to be. Very God of Very God. They worshiped Him, the only One worthy of their praise. And yet… and yet, some doubted.
There are days when I doubt. Oh, not the fact that Jesus is who He says He is. I doubt, though, that He loves me with an everlasting love. I doubt that all will be well. I doubt that God can use messed-up me. I doubt that I can be faithful to Him. I doubt I can fully trust Him. I doubt.
And in those days, I recall these verses. First, I remember that the disciples went. Even if they had some reservations, some doubts, they went “where Jesus had told them to go”. My call is to follow where Jesus is leading. It’s okay if I don’t get it all right now. It’s okay if I’m still not sure of all the details. I am faithful when I go where He sends.
And then, oh, glory, I think about the fact that I’m even able to think about this. I am sitting here, pondering these things in a language that did not exist back then, in a place on none of their maps. More, all around the world, today others are reading Jesus’ words, living in Holy Spirit power, continuing the work of the Great Commission.
Think about it. Jesus knew some doubted, and yet He still left. How could He do that? Because He knew He was not leaving these weak, fractious, doubting men alone. The Holy Spirit was coming, and He would transform this motley little bunch into a passionate force who would reach out into Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
Jesus assured the disciples He would be with them always. Not when they got their act together and stopped doubting. Always. That is our promise, too. We can go where Jesus commands, because He is with us. He is accomplishing His purposes, and His plans will not be thwarted. Even in our doubts, we can be used. Even in our doubts, God can be glorified. In the midst of our doubts, may we go where He leads, and worship Him today.