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Matthew 28:16-17

Struggles With Faith

16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. 17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.

We have come to the conclusion of Matthew's gospel, which is not only summarized but is even dependent on its five final verses. These first two verses set the stage for Jesus' following statements and give us a picture of the emotional and spiritual states of the disciples, which were probably the reasons for what followed.

This is the first time that the evangelist refers to the disciples as "the eleven," implying that Peter was also there. They had come to the mountain in Galilee where Jesus had told them to meet. There must have been a certain nervous expectation about the meeting, but at the sight of Him the tension was broken, and they worshipped together.

Their worship appears to have been spontaneous, so we can assume that they recognized Him. Now, they acknowledged Him as their Lord and Savior, realizing that they were fellowshipping with the very God Almighty of scripture.

"....but some doubted," is another phrase that has a different interpretation from nearly every commentator who has written about it. The word "some" does not appear in the Greek text but is inserted by assuming a certain grammatical design. Many do not want to think of the disciples as doubters, so they struggle to find easier interpretations. Some commentators think that there were others present, such as the five hundred witnesses mentioned in I Corinthians 15:6, and that some of these doubted.

I believe, however, that the Greek text refers to all of the eleven disciples, because there is nothing in it that demands a different interpretation. Donald A, Hagner (Word Biblical Commentary, 1995) presents the most natural meaning, by depending on the definition of the verb, "distazo", which is translated as "doubt." It means, "to be divided in mind, to be indecisive, to hesitate, or to doubt." It has nothing to do with "unbelief."

It would be natural for anyone who had been there to feel as the disciples did. They knew He was their Lord and Savior, knew that He had risen from the grave, and knew that He was the Son of God. There were no doubts in their minds. But, what would happen now? What would their relationship be with Him? Were they forgiven for deserting and/or denying Him? What did He have planned for His ministry? What would He want them to do? Could they live up to their calling? These are the types of indecision that every Christian faces daily.

Little struggles like these can become serious problems for the believer, if they are not dealt with immediately. James, writing to believers, said, "But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways." (James 1:6-8) We must be sure of our relationship with Christ, certain of our calling, assured that our prayers will be answered, and strong in the faith that God will provide us with the strength and ability to complete the work He has given us. This can only be accomplished by spending more time with Him.

Jesus wants to assure us of our calling. He wants to strengthen our resolve and help us understand the authority and power with which He has gifted us. That is why He gave His disciples and us the last and perhaps most important verses of this gospel.

We will conclude our study tomorrow.

Before The Throne:

What our your "little" struggles of faith? Ask God to help you sort them out? Are you certain that you have been forgiven? Is your relationship with Him solid? Do you know what He wants you to be doing for Him? Do you have the faith to follow through with your assignment? Ask God for His assurances that you are living according to His will for your life.

For Further Study:

** the eleven. Mr 16:14; Joh 6:70; Ac 1:13-26; 1Co 15:15; ** went. Mt 26:32;

(v.17) ** when. Mt 16:28; ** worshipped. Ps 2:12; 45:11; Joh 5:23; ** but. 1Co 15:6;


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