What Do We Do Now?
When the women, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (vs.28:1,) saw Jesus after the resurrection, He told them to go and tell the disciples to meet Him in Galilee. With joy, they obeyed. We pick up our story there, at the foot of an unnamed mountain in Galilee where the eleven are about to have an important encounter with the risen Jesus. Galilee was home for most of them and so it was a logical place to meet since they would have been traveling there after Passover week. I wonder as they entered the region if they reminisced over the last three years, especially their unusual call to become “Fishers of Men.” Today, they were soon to discover the fulfillment of that call Jesus had spoken to them those years ago.
“When they saw Jesus, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.” (vs 17) In this short verse, we have two words that unless are defined correctly can lead us astray. The first is “worship.” In the Greek, the word is proskyneo which means: to pay homage to, revere, but also to place under the authority of. This was more than just bowing, or having an experience with Jesus, this was a total surrendering of wills. We also need to understand the word “doubted” which doesn’t mean unbelief, but rather, “to have hesitancy or wavering.” This particular word is seen only one other time in Matthew and that was in Matthew 14:31 when Peter was walking on water and Jesus said to him, “Why did you doubt [or hesitate]?” This is important to our lesson today because when we are faced with Jesus’ call in our lives, sometimes we “doubt” or hesitate to do it for a variety of reasons but especially our feelings of inadequacy.
Don’t we “doubt”? Jesus appears to us in a mighty way and we know in our hearts we need to surrender immediately but we hesitate. For Peter, while walking on the water, that hesitancy caused him to sink. May I submit that when God speaks and we hesitate we will take our eyes off of Jesus, lose focus and we sink. Often, we will fail to follow through with God’s plan for us. Jesus understood this and so to combat our hesitancy Jesus sandwiched some spiritual encouragement around His commands and instruction.
The top of our encouragement sandwich is Jesus’ absolute authority or power. (vs18) He wants us to know there is not a thing He cannot do or command to take place. The bottom slice of bread is His presence, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (vs.20 CSB) He is going to be with us every second. We have Jesus’ Power and Presence and in between, we have—the going, the making disciples, the baptizing and the teaching to obey His commandments. Could it be that too often we focus on what we should do and become over-whelmed and hesitate? In our own sense of inadequacy, we might deem the task too large or the number too many to be able to reach. Perhaps there was a sense of inadequacy in those who “doubted” that day as they thought, “No one is going to believe this.” or, “How will I ever convince them?” Their focus was on what they could do or not do in their own strength but Jesus quickly added, “I will give you the power and be with you.” Luke, in the book of Acts, elaborated Jesus’ directive: Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you…” That Powerand Presence Jesus talked about can be seen in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit which each of us as a believer can draw upon.
It is long past time for the church to believe again in the Power and Presence of God in our midst. There is not a task too great, for we have the Holy Spirit’s power and presence. We are without excuse.
Matthew’s fellow disciple, Peter, was told to strengthen the brothers after he “turned back.” (Luke 22: 32b) I will close today’s lesson by his strengthening words: II Peter 1:3 “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.” His power will give us everything we need. Let’s quit doubting and surrender to Him.