SCRIPTURES – Genesis1:1 – 2:4; Acts 2:14, 22-36; Matt. 28:16-20; Ps. 16:8-11
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesushad directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has beengiven to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them inthe name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them toobserve all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to theend of the age.”
Thewords of God we have heard this day are so very awe-inspiring and remarkable!It’s a shame that, in this day of action movies and computer video games withincredible special effects, and also skepticism regarding what is written inthe Bible, the Bible’s words inspire so little awe. They should! “In the beginning, God created the heavensand the earth… He said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.” Genesis 1 should fill us with awe, for so God called into beingeverything that exists. “Behold,I am with you always, to the end of the age.”How awe-inspiring and comforting are these words of Jesus! All of the words ofthe Triune God, the one eternal God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, areremarkable and should fill us with awe.
Remarkablealso are the three little words we heard today in our Gospel reading fromMatthew 28: “butsome doubted.” These words are passed overwithout comment, but they truly are remarkable. How remarkable it is to hearthat some of the remaining eleven apostles of Jesus, such as Peter and Jamesand John and Matthew – men who had been with Him during His three-yearministry; who had seen Him do great miracles and had heard His incredibleteaching; who had then seen Him arrested, put to death on a cross, and buried –could now see Jesus standing before them, bearing His wounds but very muchalive, and still doubt! Doubt what? That He had really died? That it was reallyHim? We’re not told.
“but some doubted.” These words areremarkable because they are troubling. We need to consider them and not justpass over them, however, for let’s be honest: you and I also doubt at times.
Ø We doubt our leaders, even those of the Church. If some of Christ’s apostleswere so weak in faith as to doubt, do we not have good reason to be wary of ourown leaders? Whether they are Synod or District leaders, or just pastors ofcongregations, there are plenty of reasons to doubt their leadership. We haveseen their failures! We know and hear of their sins!
Ø Perhaps you sometimes doubt the accuracy of the Bible. After all, manyof its books were written by some of Jesus apostles; and “some doubted.” Can we trust what they wrote?
Ø Perhaps you doubt yourself; and you have good reason to do so. You knowyou’re no better than those who saw and heard Jesus. You know your sins andweaknesses and that you have failed God. How can you not doubt?
Every one of us has good reason to doubt. This is why we need toconstantly and above all look upon Jesus and listen to Him. Specifically, thereare three things to do.
First,remember what He has done. And what is that? In Matt. 28 we hear thatJesus came to His eleven disciples at a mountain in Galilee, and even to thosewho doubted. Surely He knew their doubts, for nothing is hidden from thealmighty Creator who knows our very thoughts! Still, He came to them. He didnot come with rebuke, for the time of rebuke was over. He had died for them andforgiven their sins. But, nor did He come with explanations and answers fortheir doubts. “Allauthority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me,” He told them. Jesus was not to be doubted, but believed. When you areplagued with doubts and your doubts and questions are not answered, remember:God is not your servant. He does not need to answer your every question. Youare to listen to Him, believe in Him, and trust Him; especially because He is aGod of mercy who gave His only-begotten Son into sin and death for you. Rememberthe mercy Jesus showed to sinners and know that He shows it to you! For, He whopromises to be with you always does not change. He who received those doubtingdisciples will also receive and forgive us, even when we doubt.
Second,move on from remembering to confess. I don’t mean to confess your sins,although it is always good to do this. Instead, confess what God has done foryou and given to you in your Baptism. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me,” Jesus declares. “Gotherefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of theFather and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” You have been baptized! You are not, then, some weak, simpering littlegood-for-nothing! Your Church is not a lifeless and powerless group of littleold ladies (no offense, ladies!) and helpless little children. You and your fellowbelievers have been baptized into the Name of the triune God! You bear on yourbrow the Name before which the devils cower, the name of the almighty God. Hewho called into being the entire universe by simply speaking has spoken overyou and remade you in His image and likeness. You have been washed in the bloodof the Son of God which He shed to forgive every sin. Every morning, butespecially when you doubt, confess: “I am baptized! I am achild of God! I am a holy person in Christ! The Lord of all creation is withme, for I bear His name!” Then, put your doubtsbehind you and go forth into your day.
To do what? To act. This is the final thing to do to confront and overcomeyour doubts. Act! Begin with simple obedience to God’s good commandmentsin your thoughts, your words and your actions. The 7th, 8thand 9th Commandments which we confessed today: how different we willbe seen to be when we strive to follow them! Sin blossoms in the desire formoney and things, in fearing their loss and so holding onto them instead ofsharing them. That’s what sin is: holding on, holding close and holding back,giving only what you have to give instead of what you can give. God opens Hishands and gives generously to help us. He forgives and gives His good Name tosinners. We live out our Baptisms when we strive to do the same. We showourselves to be Christ’s disciples, and this often gives the opportunity totell others why we do the good we do and so teach about our God.
Eventhough we are weak and sinful we have such great hope in Christ! We have everyreason to be confident and not doubt. “I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand,I shall not be shaken,” declares David in Ps.16:8. You can be sure of this yourself, for He who is at the right hand of God,the Lord Jesus who has all authority in heaven and on earth, is with you inyour Baptism and will hold you always. Blessed be His name! Blessed be the HolyTrinity and the undivided Unity! Let us give glory to him because in Christ Hehas shown his mercy to us!