A reluctance to believe

"Unbelief puts our circumstance between us and God, but faith puts God between us and our circumstances.” (F.B. Meyer).

Unbelief

It has become hard for some to put faith in anything or anyone. Institutions have promised so much, and they have let us down. We have had faith in government and government has let us down. We have trusted people and people have let us down. It is easy to loose confidence in people and programs. You may have said “I will believe it when I see it.” “Seeing is believing,” goes the old adage. But it may be too late when you discover that in some things believing must come before seeing. In fact, “Believing is seeing,” for those who enter the spiritual dimension of faith in Christ.

The emphasis in this passage is on the unbelief of the disciples who were mourning and weeping instead of rejoicing in the good news. The writer underscores the fact that these disciples, when they heard of Mary’s experience with Jesus at the tomb, did not believe it (vv. 9-11). Then after Jesus walked with two of the disciples 11 miles on the road to Emmaus and broke bread with them, they recognized him. But when they returned to Jerusalem and immediately told the other nine what they had seen, they did not believe them (vv. 12-13).

I suppose all of us have a reluctance to believe. We say we want evidence, but even when we get evidence, we are skeptical. It is evident that Mark wants us to understand that a climate of persistent and stubborn unbelief prevailed among these disciples after the resurrection. They found it difficult to accept this amazing fact, that the one they had seen crucified was now risen and living among them again. The significant thing here is that Jesus Himself expected the disciples to believe the reports of the eyewitnesses who had seen Him. They were trustworthy persons and were reporting what they themselves had actually experienced. Jesus is so concerned about this that He takes them to task because they refused to believe those who had seen Him (v. 14).

Application

One thing is very clear from this account in Mark. When I have adequate, trustworthy witnesses who reports to me what they have seen I am expected to respond with belief. These men saw the risen Lord. They were granted a privilege that I am not granted, but nevertheless, my faith can rest upon this solid foundation; that even though I have not seen Him, I am to believe because of the eyewitness accounts here.

Mark 16:9-14 (English Standard Version)

[[Now when he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. She went and told those who had been with him, as they mourned and wept. But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it. After these things he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them. Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.

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