The Enemy Jesus Battled to the End

The Enemy Jesus Battled to the End

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.

Matthew 28:16–17 ESV

The disciples had seen thousands of miracles. They’d even seen the greatest miracle of all: Jesus resurrected after three days in the tomb.

And yet, here at the end of the Gospel of Matthew, we read that “some doubted.” Even as they worshiped and received the Great Commission, the disciples doubted Jesus.

Unbelievable—isn’t it?

It’s so easy to sit here with my Bible in my lap and gape at their lack of faith. After all, you and I would never struggle with doubt if we had seen and experienced what they had, right?

Well… Not so fast.

Remember the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19–31)?

In this story we see a conversation between two characters, a rich man who died and went to Hades and Abraham. The rich man is in torment. And as he’s suffering, he looks across a great chasm and sees a poor beggar he knew from before he died named Lazarus. This poor beggar, who’s wounds dogs used to lick, is right at Abraham’s side.

The rich man calls out to Abraham: “Please, send Lazarus over to give me a cool drink of water—I’m in agony!”

Abraham replies: “Sorry, that’s not how it works. The gulf between us is too wide to cross.”

The rich man begs: “Will you at least send him to warn my family so they don’t end up in this place of torment?”

Abraham’s answer is chilling.

He says, “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.”

The Enemy of Unbelief

You see, this parable is eerily similar to what’s happening in today’s verses—and to what happens in our hearts every day.

While it’s easy to sneer at the disciples’ doubt, we ignore the reality of our own. And in doing so, a great enemy ravages our hearts without us ever taking notice.

Like the rich man, we think if we just had the right evidence or information laid out for us, we’d believe the truth. But Abraham helps us see this isn’t so.

In fact, the disciples themselves show us that no amount of “evidence” ever quite convinces the human heart. So to the very end of his earthly ministry, Jesus battled unbelief tooth and nail. The disciples were looking a man raised from the dead straight in the eyes—and even that wasn’t enough.

The truth is that unbelief is likely something we’ll battle for all of our earthly lives.

In fact, at the end of three-out-of-four Gospels, Jesus addresses unbelief in the disciples (see my notes on the image below).

Gospel Endings Compared

It’s good to ask honest questions and seek their answers (Proverbs 25:2). But it’s foolish to think we’re beyond doubt.

Instead, we must worship through our doubt, be honest about it with each other, and ask Jesus for increased faith. Just like the man whose son Jesus healed in Mark 9:24 said: “I believe; help my unbelief!”

Do you have doubt you haven’t addressed in your heart? If so, take it to Jesus and your church family, ask for faith, and keep worshiping because you’re already forgiven.

Devotion by Jordan Loftis. He is editor of Short Daily Devotions and author of The Men With Bare Feet.