Recently I was meditating on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in the book of Mark. So much happened in a few, short days that it must have been totally overwhelming and confusing. I can easily imagine His disciple’s state of mind. Firstly they witness Jesus being arrested and led away by a mob. Next they witness Him being crucified and laid bare on a crude, Roman cross, and finally, they’re confronted with the unconceivable news that He’s risen from the dead.
The Bible narrative tells us that they didn’t believe it! They neither believed the women who saw the empty tomb and spoke to an angel, nor the two men who Jesus revealed himself to on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24). They were so blinded by the grief and the trauma of all they’d witnessed, that they weren’t able to enter into the joy of Jesus’ resurrection.
He’d prophesised many times that He would die and be resurrected, but somehow they failed to grasp this truth. Perhaps, when they heard Jesus cry from the cross ‘It is finished’ (John 19:30), they thought the words meant ‘I’m finished, my cause is lost’. What was a cry of victory and accomplishment may have been interpreted as a statement of defeat. I’m only surmising of course, but whatever the reason, the disciples simply didn’t believe.
I can well identify with Jesus’ unbelieving disciples. Their frailty and humanity is evident throughout all the gospels, but especially in this chapter. The eleven disciples, who Jesus had spent all night praying for before selecting, didn’t believe that Jesus had risen from the dead.
If I was Jesus I probably would have thrown up my hands in despair and walked away. Would you blame Him? I would have chosen new disciples and started again, but fortunately this isn’t what Jesus did. He rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe (Mark 16:14), and then went on to commission them to go into all the world and preach the good news.
He promised that those who believed in His name would drive out demons, heal the sick and overcome all the power of the enemy. This time they believed Him and the early Church was birthed. ‘The Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.’ (Mark 16:20). Jesus could have given up on His disciples, but He didn’t. That gives me hope, because it means that He won’t give up on you or me either. He’ll continue to work with us until we become the people He’s called us to be. Hallelujah!
Prayer: Thank You, Jesus, that You didn’t give up on Your disciples. That gives me courage to continue fighting the fight of faith, because You won’t give up on me either. Amen.