In today’s passage Jesus has told the disciples where to meet him for the last time. They worship him on the mountain when they see him, he passes on his authority to them, he commands them to make disciples of all nations, he tells them to baptize in the name of the Trinity, and he promises to be with them forever. All these are familiar and fundamental parts of our faith.
Before today, I had never taken in the words that come right after “they worshiped him.” The crucial phrase is this: “but some doubted.” Some doubted! Right here among all these orders and promises, when they are looking right at the risen Jesus for the last time, not everyone believed what they saw and heard.
We could think of “but some doubted” as an easily overlooked minor detail of the story until we remember the Resurrection appearances and the role of doubt in the very different Gospel of John. Doubting Thomas is no minor character in John 20:19-25.
So many of us have been taught that if we are to be Christian we must accept what we have been told. Many Christians’ measure of faith is really a measure of our capacity to believe without questioning. I remember my terror as a child as I would pray, “Please God, make me believe so I don’t go to hell.”
But in the account in Matthew and the story in John, serious doubting is going on. Neither narrative condemns the doubters. This passage may comfort those of us who have been traumatized with respect to our inability to believe what we are told. Doubting is human. It is one way we grow in our ability to see the truth, and God put this capacity for doubt in us.
Thank you, God, for inviting us to bring our whole selves, doubts and all, to you. Amen.
Our first reading is arguably one of the most controversial passages in the Bible. Even among those who believe that God created the world, there is controversy. For example, should the days be understood as literal or symbolic? Much time and trouble have been spent in arguing about these things. A different approach is found in Psalm 8, where the author simply praises God for the majestic work of creation without needing to work out all the details. Perhaps this approach would lead to more love and peace among the people of God, as Paul hopes for in Second Corinthians. Matthew describes the ascension, where Jesus tells his followers to baptize in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, an appropriate passage in preparation for Trinity Sunday.
Read Genesis 1:1–2:4a. When has reading the Bible in a new way or with new knowledge changed your experience of the text?
Read Psalm 8. How do you feel called to care for the earth God has given us?
Read 2 Corinthians 13:11-13. How does your faith community heed Paul’s advice to the Corinthians? How does it fall short?
Read Matthew 28:16-20. Recall a time of doubt. How has that experience made your faith stronger?
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