A popular question from skeptics of Christianity calls into question the logic of believing in something we cannot see: "If God really wanted us to believe in Jesus, why wouldn’t He allow everyone to see Jesus in person?" Aside from the preposterous mistake of thinking that God should be subject to the demands of His own creation in the way He chooses to enlighten us, this argument makes another crucial error in evaluating the human experience. It assumes that seeing is believing.
The Bible tells a different story about the way humans believe. In today’s reading, some of Christ’s skeptics happened to be His followers. And when they saw Him with their own eyes in the place He had arranged to meet them, they worshiped Him for who He was . . . except some of them doubted. John 20 tells the story of Thomas’s need to see for himself. Mark 16 recounts how Jesus rebuked some disciples for not believing other eyewitnesses But here in Matthew we see that even some of the disciples who saw Jesus resurrected in the flesh had their doubts.
As a whole, though, the disciples rejoiced in the presence of Christ and agreed to obey His commission to baptize disciples who would follow the instructions of their Savior. And if it was only the eleven disciples in His midst, the accounts of Acts lead us to believe that whatever doubts the disciples may have had were overcome along the way. Christ’s followers, after all, are not perfect. They are made perfect in Him.
We normally associate the issuing of the Great Commission with the ascension of Jesus, but this particular eyewitness account focuses not on Jesus’ departure but rather on His dependable presence in the disciples’ lives. Those words, I am with you always, were true on a spiritual and missional level. Though Jesus would soon no longer be visible to them and dwell with them bodily here on earth, His presence in their faith and in their work would never go away.