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September 19, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons. She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe. After that, He appeared in another form to two of them as they walked and went into the country. And they went and told it to the rest, but they did not believe them either. Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen.”—Mark 16:9–14 (NKJV)
Have you ever read the Bible and asked yourself, “What would I have done?” Chances are you have, and it’s just as likely you’ve answered in a heroic sense—you refused to bow, you spoke the truth, you stood up to Goliath, you didn’t waver under pressure or persecution. And this could certainly happen because all things are possible with God. But this brings us to an interesting point when it comes to what the disciples did, or rather didn’t do.
Mark tells us the first person Jesus revealed Himself to in His resurrected form was Mary Magdalene, and he underscores how in her former life He delivered her from seven demons. Of all the people who could have been so honored, the Lord goes to someone society didn’t hold in high regard at the time; to the proverbial “lost cause” that only He could have fixed. There’s a powerful point here when it comes to the great gap between God’s perspective and ours. But suffice it to say, He reveals He is risen to Mary, and she immediately shares the news with His disciples, but they didn’t believe.
That’s strange! You’d expect a different response, wouldn’t you? After all, these were the people who spent the most time with Jesus, who had even told them He would be crucified and raised to life on the third day! They had everything they needed to believe this good news, and yet they didn’t. And it didn’t end here.
The same expression of unbelief happens again as Jesus reveals Himself to two other followers. They also share the good news with the disciples, who don’t believe them! Rejecting the testimony of Mary was one thing, but to dismiss these two is perplexing! Or is it?
Again, we’re quick to cast ourselves in the heroic light having the benefit of hindsight, “They should have believed . . . I certainly would have!” Yet God’s promises are often so good that we dismiss them as being “too good to be true.” We confine Him to the limitations of our experiences of this world. And not just the promise of the resurrection, but the many promises the Lord has given us along the way of life as we sojourn towards His heavenly presence. We do what the disciples did, we waver because something seems too good to be true.
Then as now, the Lord wants His followers to believe His promises. Nothing that God has told us is too good to be true—it’s all good, and it’s all true . . . period! “What would I have done?” We answer that question through our response to each and every promise He gives to us.
Pause: What point of relatability do you have with the disciples here?
Practice: Determine how should you respond to God’s promises and why.
Pray: Father, help me to receive all that You have promised. Give me courage to get past my tendency to think anything from You is too good to be true! Amen.
Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.