And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.
If some doubted when they saw Jesus, it is not surprising that some doubt now that it is nearly nineteen centuries since our Lord was on earth among men in visible form. Therefore it is not just or charitable to turn savagely against people who are seriously perplexed. The only right and Christian course is to try to help them.
I. THERE MUST BE MUCH MYSTERY IN RELIGION. It reaches out beyond our everyday experience, and deals with things of God and the unseen world, and therefore we should be prepared to see the clouds gathering over many of its difficult regions. If we look for a mathematical demonstration or a scientific verification of the facts and doctrines of our faith, we shall often be disappointed. At present, in this world of partial lights, such things are not always to be had on demand. Religion belongs to the region of practical life. If we have enough evidence for a reasonable conviction, this is all that we really need. Absolute freedom from all questions we cannot have; nor do we need it; we are disciplined by our mental difficulties.
II. THERE ARE DIFFICULTIES WHICH OUR OWN IGNORANCE WILL ACCOUNT FOR. We do not know why "some doubted." Was our Lord's appearance greatly altered? We cannot for a moment imagine that some one else was personating the dead Christ. The very fact that some who saw him doubted about him shows that even the more sceptical Christians did see the risen Christ. But how mysterious are these vague Hints! They just show that we have not yet full light. In the twilight there are many obscurities.
III. IT IS OUR DUTY TO EXAMINE THE EVIDENCE OF THE RESURRECTION. Too often doubt feeds on itself. Some people devour sceptical books, but they have not patience to examine the other side. They give a large welcome to doubts of all kinds, thinking his conduct fair and generous and liberal-minded; but they are very grudging of receiving what is urged in favour of Christian truth. Then there are those who are too careless to think at all seriously. They catch the floating doubts and play with them indolently - no more. Others are earnest in the pursuit of truth. These people would to well to consider the cumulative evidence for the resurrection of Christ.
1. There is the alternative - What became of his body if he did not rise?
2. How could men who had despaired suddenly wake up to a great confidence if no resurrection had occurred to revive their faith?
3. If one or two hysterical fanatics might have fancied they had seen a flitting ghost in the twilight, is that a reason for believing that a dozen men could have had a similar hallucination - not to mention the five hundred to whom St. Paul refers - many of whom he knew to be alive in his own day? St. Paul's undoubted Epistle to the Corinthians sums up the evidence with great force.
IV. FAITH IN THE RESURRECTION IS LARGELY DEPENDENT ON OUR IDEA OF CHRIST. This is not merely a question of an historical fact. The resurrection of Christ is not to be compared with the fabled resurrection of Nero. We have first to learn who Christ was. The unique nature of Christ, seen in his earthly life, prepares us to believe in his resurrection. It is not merely a resurrection; it is the resurrection of Christ that we are to see, as the crowning of his wonderful life on earth. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.