From my 2016 Journal.
Jesus’ death left pain in its wake, and His followers stubbornly refused to believe the women who reported seeing Him after He had risen (Mark 16:14). I wonder what lie the disciples believed that kept denial in place?
- Too good to be true.
- I can’t let myself feel hope for fear I’ll be disappointed.
- You can’t trust a woman’s word.
Jesus doesn’t need to dig around in their psyches to help them discover why they’re being stubborn. (That’s what I would have done.) He knows their hearts and rebukes them for their refusal to believe. God is patient with our struggles and fears and doubts, but He’s not so patient with stubborn disbelief. How many times did He say, “O ye of little faith?” There’s no pointing fingers here. I’m plenty guilty myself.
The women at the tomb believed as soon as the angels spoke truth to them. The men, however, continued to doubt when presented with the evidence (others’ testimony and an empty tomb). The disciples on the road to Emmaus couldn’t seem to grasp the truth, and Jesus rebuked them. Even when the disciples saw Jesus in the room where they gathered, and the joy center of their brain activated, they had a hard time believing.
We know that the brain is a complex organ—different parts are responsible for different functions: the occipital for eyes, the amygdala for emotion, the frontal cortex for logic and reasoning, and memory in a different part. Since God created the human brain, He knows what part gets activated during fear (like Peter sinking in the sea of Galilee). He knows that the frontal cortex shuts down during a fight/flight/freeze situation. Yet He seems impatient: Why do you doubt, Peter? Why do you have so little faith? Why don’t you men believe when the evidence is in front of you that I’m alive? Stop doubting!
What makes us doubt? Is the emotion center too strong? Are there lies imbedded in that emotion? Those with D.I.D. (Dissociative Identity Disorder) maintain strong denial parts, for if they believe trauma happened, then they’d have to admit it was real. Once truth enters the brain, however, and they experience an encounter with the living Lord Jesus, doubt and fear flee. Jesus knows all this, so is He really impatient . . . or is He challenging His disciples to accept HIM, the way, the truth, and the life?
Sometimes it’s hard to believe someone else’s testimony, but everyone (including Mary, the ten disciples, and eventually Thomas) believed when they saw the resurrected Jesus with their own eyes. Why? Because they experienced it for themselves. Truth experienced in the right brain translates into left-brain belief.
When evidence stares me in the face, what makes me dig in my heels and refuse to see truth? [2021 update: I’m not talking about political opinions on whether or not to wear masks!]