The Meeting in Galilee
Text: Matthew 28 : 1 - 20
All eleven disciples had been contacted. Swiftly they made their way to Galilee. What was in store for them? What lay ahead? Would the Risen Christ continue to lead them as He did before? Many questions must have filled the minds of the disciples as they wended their way to Galilee.
“Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee,
to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them.
When they saw Him, they worshipped Him; but some doubted.”
Recognition of Jesus
There was no mistaking Jesus! The disciples had spent three years with Him. Of course they would be able to recognize their beloved Teacher. But He was none the worse for wear, despite all that He had to endure at the hands of the Jews and the Romans! The women disciples were right! Jesus was alive and well. He had indeed risen from the dead!
“They worshipped Him”
Twice now we read that worship was given to Jesus. First the women disciples gave Him worship (Cf. Matthew 28:9). Now the men disciples also worshipped Him. There was a subtle change of attitude towards Jesus now. To the careful reader, this change could be said to be “obvious”.
In the three years of being trained as disciples, there were only a few occasions when this sense of awe was felt. Only in exceptional circumstances did the disciples feel that they stood before Someone really special. Let us take a look at some of those circumstances. In Matthew’s Gospel, we have the following recorded.
1. The Calming of the Storm (Matthew 8:23-27)
Jesus was asleep in a boat on that occasion when a storm suddenly arose. The disciples felt that they were all in danger of being drowned and thus they woke Jesus up from His much needed nap. With the greatest calm and ease, Jesus stilled the storm. The reaction of the disciples was,
“Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”
2. Walking on the Sea (Matthew 14:23-33)
The second occasion also involved the sea of Galilee. This time the disciples discovered that Jesus could walk on water. Peter, finding it hard to believe that it really was Jesus, asked if he could walk on water as well. He started off well, but soon doubts came in and he began to sink! Jesus caught him and enabled him to walk back to the boat amidst the boisterous wind. When they finally reached the boat, the disciples worshipped Him.
“And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.
Then those who were in the boat came and worshipped Him,
saying, ‘Truly, You are the Son of God.”
It seems strange that in a lengthy book like the Gospel of Matthew, there were so few instances when the disciples worshipped Jesus! They followed Jesus because He was a great Teacher. They liked His teachings. They liked His lifestyle. They liked the way in which He ministered so powerfully. They knew that He was no ordinary Person. They even called Him “The Christ, the Son of the living God” (Cf. Matthew 16:16)!
But after the Resurrection of Jesus, in the same chapter, Matthew recorded that the disciples worshipped Him! No more did they just take Him to be a great Teacher. His Resurrection was living proof that He was indeed the Son of the Living God! He deserved worship indeed.
THE SINISTER POWER OF DOUBT
Matthew was candid enough to note that even among the eleven, there were some who still harboured doubts! Such was the sinister power of doubts. How do we understand the problem of doubts?
1. It was an obvious lack of faith
Had not Jesus addressed this problem before? Had He not rebuked them for their lack of faith?
“Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?”
Similar words were repeated on another occasion, this time specifically directed towards Peter.
“O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
The problem of a lack of an established faith plagued the disciples, from the earliest times right up to the present moment! It seemed as if the disciples were helpless against the sinister power of doubt!
2. It had to be dealt with thoroughly
Jesus could not allow the disciples to continue to be gripped by the power of doubt! This matter had to be dealt with and resolved once and for all.
a) Post Resurrection appearances
Part of the solution lay in appearing to His disciples. That was necessary or the doubts would not be allayed.
b) Deeper Instruction
The bulk of the answer lay in another direction. He must teach His disciples further. And they must learn their lessons of faith better! Faith must cast out doubts!