Jesus Christ said, “It is written, My house shall be called a house of prayer.”

The Power of the Resurrection and the Faithless Believer

Powerful Life Lessons from the Aftermath of the Resurrection #2

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TEXT: Mark 16:14-16

14 Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.

15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

The Power of the Resurrection and the Faithless Believer

Once again, we begin with a passage of Scripture that starts out by letting us know that something has happened before. Verse 14 of our passage begins with the word “afterward.”

Before we get into the depths of this passage, allow me to share with you a story:

Ocean journeys by Polynesian, Chinese and Viking seamen proved that ancient mariners could successfully sail long distances without sighting land. Most ancient sailors, however, kept land in sight to assure their ability to return to it. Since a return was always essential to the success of an enterprise, as well as the enrichment of its sponsors, the sailors chose the safe course.

Before Christ, millions had experienced death. They all left, but none came back. What it was like out there, beyond life and human experience, no one ever returned to say. The world stood awestruck before the mystery behind the veil. Then Jesus came… though at first disappointingly, for he died like all the rest. But death couldn’t contain, let alone conquer him. He surrendered to death’s power to victimize it. Into its stifling depths he went to free all trapped inside their fears of it. From death’s grip he freed himself, and up from the grave he arose, exposing its emptiness and proving his victory over it!

The “afterward” in verse 14 of our passage is referring to the resurrection of Jesus Christ; the angel’s appearance to Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Salome who had gone to the tomb; as well as Jesus’ appearance to Mary Magdalene. The Bible tells us that the disciples were mourning and weeping when Mary Magdalene showed up to tell them that Jesus was alive. We are quickly informed, however, that “they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not.” Later, two other disciples on the road to Emmaus were met by Jesus and talked with Him. When they realized who He was, “they went and told it” to the other disciples, but the Bible again informs us, “neither believed they them.” So, we see that in the aftermath of Jesus’ resurrection, there was still a lot of unbelief going on. The disciples didn’t want to believe that Jesus Christ would have to die, and now that He was risen from the dead they refused to believe that as well.

So, when Jesus showed up in the flesh before all of them, you can imagine their shock and surprise. Jesus was disappointed in their unbelief. The Bible says he “upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.” The word “upbraid” means to rebuke or reprimand.

Dear friend, have you ever doubted God’s Word or His promises to you? Have you ever lost faith or stopped trusting in God and then felt terrible about it when the thing that God said He would do came to pass? Do you struggle with trusting God on a daily basis? If so, allow me to share with you how Jesus Christ responded to the unbelief of His disciples after He had been resurrected from the dead.

First, Jesus helped the disciples understand what true faith is. The Bible says He “upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.” In other words, He allowed them to see what true faith is from their own failure to believe. What is true faith? True faith is believing that God will do what He said He would do even if we cannot see how it will be done.

Hebrews 11:1 says, “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Even though they had spent months with Jesus, hearing Him teach and seeing Him work miracles, the disciples still did not fully understand what it meant to believe in things that they could not see with their eyes.

Evidently, Jesus Christ expected that they should be able to grasp this by now. That is why He rebuked them for their refusal to believe. Now, the disciples’ unbelief has important implications for those of us who are faced with the resurrection story today. Many people today still do not believe that Jesus rose from the dead. Matthew Barnes notes, “Never were people more difficult to be convinced of anything than [the disciples] were of that fact. And this shows conclusively that they had not conspired to impose on the world; that they had given up all for lost when he died; that they did not expect his resurrection; and all this is the strongest proof that he truly rose. They were not convinced until it was impossible for them to deny it any longer.”

If you are saved, then you already know what it is to demonstrate faith. You placed your faith and trust in Jesus Christ without seeing or experiencing His death, burial, or resurrection. It took true faith to make that decision. And, if you have made that decision, shouldn’t you also be willing to have faith in God in every other of your life.

Second, Jesus Christ wanted His disciples to step out by faith. After He finished rebuking them for their unbelief, Jesus “said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Once the matter of His resurrection had been settled, Jesus Christ gave His disciples a command that would require them to step out by faith. He told them to go into all the world and preach the gospel to all people — an enormous task if there ever was one.

This commission would require that they step out by faith. They had no idea what the future held. They did not know how their message of a risen Savior would be received. They probably already anticipated that they would face opposition from Jewish religious leaders and from the Roman government. But Jesus wanted them to persevere by faith.

Alexander MacLaren calls this bold command the “divine audacity of the Christian faith.” He goes on to say, “The matter is literally left in our hands. Jesus has returned to the throne. Before departing He announces the distinct command. There it is, and it is age-long in its application — ‘Preach!’ That is the one gospel weapon. Tell of the name and the work of ‘God manifest in the flesh.’ First ‘evangelise,’ then ‘disciple the nations.’ Bring to Christ, then build up in Christ. There are no other orders. Let there be boundless trust in the divine gospel, and it will vindicate itself in every mission-field. Our anticipations of success should be world-wide in their sweep.”

Notice that word “anticipation.” That is faith — expecting and believing that the church will be successful in its quest.

Beyond the Great Commission, there are things in your life that God has told you to step out by faith and do. Perhaps, He has told you to begin a specific ministry outreach. Perhaps, He has told you to lead your family in a different direction. Perhaps, He has told you to take another job that does not pay as much as your old job. But, right now, you are hesitating and unsure of what the future holds. What should you do? Have faith in God, and step out to do His will.

Third, we see in this passage that Jesus wanted the disciples to impart their faith to others. Verse 16 reads, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” As Christians, our job is to evangelize others first, in order that they may get saved, and, second, in order that they may begin doing whatever it is that God has called them to do in the world.

The disciples were uniquely qualified to lead the church after Jesus’ ascension. Despite their temporary lapse in faith, they were the ones who had spent the most time with Jesus and had more confidence in Him than anyone else. It was their task to help others come to Jesus and grow strong in their faith. The history recounted in the book of Acts as well as the four Gospels and the numerous epistles to local churches demonstrate the disciples’ efforts to spread the Gospel and encourage new Christians in the faith.

Each of us have a calling to do the same today. As Christians living in a lost world, we must do everything in our power to help others believe in Christ so that they can be saved, and once they have done that, we, like and older brother or sister, should help them to grow in the faith. You can probably think of some people in your life who are struggling with their faith. You should make it your business to go along side them, to encourage them, and to build them up in their walk with Christ. Let them see what it means to have faith in God through your life.

And let us all continue to pray and have faith that the Gospel message will be preached around the world for the salvation of millions more. The world has no more excuses. No one has to die and go to Hell because Jesus Christ not only died, but rose from the dead just as He said He would.

As we close, listen to these words from Daniel Whitby on the resurrection: “After so many assurances from Jesus that he would rise again the third day; and after the testimony of so many eye-witnesses, that he had performed his promise, the disciples believed not. And if this be attributed to them as culpable unbelief, and hardness of heart, surely those persons must much more be guilty of these sins, who, after the testimony of these apostles, and five hundred more eye-witnesses of his resurrection; after the testimony of a multitude of Christians in different parts of the world, touching the mighty miracles performed in his name by the apostles, the chosen witnesses of his resurrection, and by many others, who believed it and were baptized into this faith, for a whole age together, do yet continue to disbelieve that resurrection, and the faith confirmed by it.”

The question today, dear Christian friend who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ, His death, burial, and resurrection, but yet does not act like it, is: because you don’t obey the Great Commission, is the Lord upbraiding you right now, is the Lord rebuking you right now, is the Lord admonishing you right now for your unbelief?

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If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, allow me to share with you briefly how you can be saved from your sins and be guaranteed a home in Heaven with God today.

First, please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Please understand that because of your sins, you deserve eternal punishment in hell. Romans 6:23 says “the wages of sin is death…This is both physical death and spiritual death in hell. That is the bad news.

But here is the good news. John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and today I choose to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Jesus Christ as my Savior and I choose to follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.

If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door.” Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.