I've always found it such a striking statement when Jesus bluntly says that even if a man should rise from the dead, people still won't necessarily be convinced of his message (Luke 16:31). But Jesus said it, and it was true of the Pharisees He said it to. They didn't believe Jesus' words even when guards came from Jesus' tomb telling them of an earthquake at the tomb and of an angel who shone like lightning and who rolled away the stone from the tomb's entrance (Matthew 28:2-4, 11-15). Even when the disciples began proclaiming that Jesus had risen from the dead and began performing miracles in His name, the Pharisees still refused to believe Jesus' message. And I think a part of the reason I'm so struck by Jesus' statement is that I still struggle with unbelief in the light of so many living illustrations of God's goodness and grace.
From the stories in God's Word to the stories of my times to the stories of my life, I continually see and hear of what God can do, promises to do, and does -- and yet it's obvious that I'm not fully persuaded of God's goodness. Otherwise, why the struggle in my soul with unbelief? Why the occasional anger with God, offended by His apparent unconcern regarding unanswered prayers? I'm no different than the Pharisees in this, and Jesus might as well have been speaking to me when He said that even if someone should rise from the dead, I wouldn't necessarily be convinced of all they had to say. Jesus rose, and there are still days I doubt Him.
For the Pharisees, the issue was hardness of heart. God forbid that I should harden my heart to God due to my own disappointments! Jesus has been kind enough to open my eyes to see Him for who He really is, and I should need to see nothing else to know that God is good and His plans are perfect. No "ifs" -- no demands. I can simply believe God's Word even when I don't fully understand God's ways. His appeal is clear: "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent" (John 6:29).
© 2011 by Ken Peters
Hey, Ken, I think there is the doubt of the mind, and the doubt that is seen in our actions. When we turn away from God because of our doubts we put our dis-belief into action.
I was just thinking of Thomas the other day, and how Jesus' responds to his doubts, Jesus said to Thomas,
"Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe." 28 Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!"
I think in your case, Ken, what you are calling doubt, or un-belief, is actually a searching for the truth, and a desire to know, to be given wisdom. Your motive isn't just to know for yourself and Fiona, but also that you might encourage others, and boldly declare what the bible says about such things.
May Jesus himself show you, and teach you in a way that you can understand, these profound things that perplex you.
Thank Laurence. There may be something to what you're saying about thinking it's unbelief when it may be more of a muddled desire for understanding when life is confusing. But I also know that I'm not immune to unbelief and that it tries to creep up on me amidst life's bigger disappointments. In such times, I feel that it's only reasonable to be open to considering what Jesus said to the Pharisees as being potentially applicable in my own life.
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