“The Great Commission” – Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
Before sending out the disciples to share the Gospel, Jesus rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart. In order to be obedient they needed to have a firm belief in the resurrection of Jesus.
In Scripture the heart is used often to describe the whole person – the place where a person thinks, feels, and plans. To have a heart that is hard is to ignore, reject, refuse to believe in God’s Word.
Unbelief hinders obedience. Jesus is not limited by unbelief as some teach. They refer to the scripture where it says He could not do mighty works in Nazareth, his hometown, because of their unbelief.
Yet we see many times when Jesus perform miracles in spite of lack of faith.
Martha lacked belief that Jesus could raise Lazarus, yet he did. We see one father who brought his son to Jesus for healing and asked for help with his unbelief.
Mark 9:23-24 – Jesus said to him, “If you believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”
Jesus did not mighty works in Nazareth not because their unbelief weakened or destroyed His power. One of the main purposes of Jesus’ miracles was to bear witness to His claim to be the Son of God. Since the people of Nazareth had rejected him, there was nothing He could do to make them believe. They had hardened their hearts against the very revelation they needed.
John Calvin says, ” Unbelievers, as far as lies in their power, bind up the hands of God by their obstinacy; not that God is overcome, as if he were an inferior, but because they do not permit him to display his power.”
So when one refuses to even entertain the thought of a miracle or of the claims of Jesus to be the Son of God, one has hardened their heart.
I am so thankful that while Jesus rebuked them, He clearly reached out to them and gave them proof of His resurrection.
First, to Thomas.
The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
To many others
1 Corinthians 15:5-6 – He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep.
They clearly saw and believed Jesus was alive! And thankfully they were then able to obey the Great Commission so that today we have the truth.
So what do you do if you have sometimes have doubt? Do as the father did who brought his child to God. Confess you struggle to believe. Be honest with God. This idea that we cannot express doubt or God will not hear us is so wrong.
He knows our heart, He knows when we doubt.
Be honest and cry out to Him to help you.
Do not let moments of doubt keep you from reaching out to Him. He is able to handle your questions.