“Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen.”
If you’ve glossed over what happened, go back and read the first phrase in the sentence in the verse above.
Jesus appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table.
More on the rest of the text in a moment.
In the previous verses, you would read that after the Lord was resurrected from the dead that Mary came with spices to anoint the body of Jesus. But the stone was large and needed to be moved. As this would be the 3rd day that Jesus would be in the grave, the spices would cover the smell of the beginning stages of the decaying process of the body of Jesus.
They assumed He would still be dead because they all didn’t believe what Jesus said.
Mark 10:32-34 (NKJV Strong’s)
“Now they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was going before them; and they were amazed. And as they followed they were afraid. Then He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them the things that would happen to Him: “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him to the Gentiles; and they will mock Him, and scourge Him, and spit on Him, and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.”
Some will argue that Jesus never told Mary or the others these words.
But if we read of the raising of Lazarus from the dead in John chapter 11, the Lord mentioned to Martha, who wasn’t at the burial site of Jesus, that He is the resurrection and the life. But Mary was there.
Now the women came, two of them named Mary, and Salome, to do the honors of anointing the body of Jesus, but the stone needed to be rolled away because the stone was too heavy.
But a young man in white linen was there. An angel of God. He indicated to them that Jesus was raised from the dead. Just as He told the apostles. But they went away scared and said nothing to no one.
Mary finally told the disciples but the eleven were still in mourning, in tears that the Jews and Romans killed the Lord. But they didn’t believe what Mary said.
Then we find the Lord “appeared” to the disciples that were sitting.
The risen Lord didn’t open the door. Evidently, the door was closed. The Lord just “appeared.”
The Greek definition of “appeared” means……..(Olive Tree Enhanced Strong’s Dictionary) “to make manifest or visible or known what has been hidden or unknown, to manifest, whether by words, or deeds, or in any other way.”
To vanish is the opposite. But Jesus appeared because to the naked eye, He was hidden.
Why am I making a big deal out of this?
Because everyone knows that when a person is dead, that they aren’t coming back to life.
The greatest miracle is to come back from the dead. The disciples watched what took place in the Garden. Peter and another disciple saw the trial. John took the mother of Jesus away, so John saw Jesus hanging on the cross, condemned to death.
“Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus….” pleaded for the body of Jesus and buried Him in his tomb.
The dramatic events took place and the disciples were told by Jesus that these events would take place. And they were upset that the Lord had a tragic ending. Then the Lord Jesus appeared out of hiding. Not that He was hiding but you get the point.
And then the Lord rebuked them for their unbelief and “hardness of heart.”
The resurrection of Jesus is the one feature that in comparison to any thing man produces, is what makes Christianity stand out.
No one else that was a religious figure ever came back from the dead. Their bones can be located or at the very least, their history records their death, but no resurrection.
Today, the virus, having originated from China, has affected the world. The Lord Jesus told us that in the last days “great earthquakes, famines, and pestilences would be the beginning of sorrows. As Paul puts it in Romans 8:22, it’s the earth travailing in birth pangs.
Now even though these are clear end time signs, yet, many people have hardness of hearts.
When the Lord Jesus used this word, I sensed that I needed to look this word up.
And a powerful definition emerged.
.pl.sclero·ses (-sēz)1. a. A thickening or hardening of a body part, as of an artery, especially from excessive formation of fibrous interstitial tissue.
b. A disease characterized by this thickening or hardening.
2. Botany The hardening of cells by the formation of a secondary wall and the deposition of lignin.”
These medical definitions is a clear illustration of what took place spiritually in the hearts of the disciples when Jesus died.
The disciples were fully convinced that the Lord Jesus wasn’t coming back.
Even after Jesus raised 3 persons from the dead as recorded in NT Scripture.
The daughter of Jairus, the son of a Jewish woman who was carried on a bier, and Lazarus.
They were there to see these events, and that should have assured and calmed their hearts, but when you’re in an emotional state of mind, sometimes a miracle, seen numerous times wouldn’t be enough to wake you up.
COVID has revealed what was really in our hearts. It challenged me to the core of my heart.
Can God keep us as He said in His Word?
Do I really believe that God could be a shield to protect me from COVID?
Fear grip our hearts and we begin to take precautions. Then those that were in authority took advantage of this pestilence and imposed restrictions beyond reason.
Hardness of heart was revealed. I had sclerosis of the heart.
March 23 was our last service at Prevailing Word in Brooklyn, NY.
The entire month of April we were out. But we could go to Walmart, grocery stores, Home Depot, Lowes, and other places, but worship service was severely restricted. But protesters, rioters, and others weren’t reprimanded.
Pastors that took a stand were fined, jailed, and shut down. But also parishioners were infected. Many saints and pastors died, and that caused us to be in more fear about COVID.
We didn’t know what to believe.
Then I got the impression from the Lord on the 1st Sunday in May. We were holding our services on Zoom. It was a convenient alternative but all of a sudden, I’ve gotten the impression that we couldn’t do this the following Sunday.
May 10th, we resumed service in Brooklyn, NY. New York is the epicenter of COVID in the US. If God tells you to do something and you obey Him, He will protect you.
If you’re walking the way you’re supposed to walk in the Word, He will protect His people.
We took the precautions seriously. People came with masks, and were social distanced. If that’s their level of faith, I had no issue with it. So don’t badger people if they do wear a mask, or don’t wear one.
The height of the infections and deaths in NY really bought fear to us all and yes, it was completely risky.
But think about it.
The place is called a house of worship. Can the Lord keep His people safe in a pandemic or was it tempting the Lord?
James tells us that “Faith without works is dead.”
But fear, unbelief, and doubt is alive.
Some will say that this is no time to try the Lord and His Word.
Folks, then what is a better time?
Do we really trust the Lord or not?
Some will say that we were foolish. Well, since we’ve been back in service, the Lord kept His Word. You see. Each day is a miracle. Every week, every day, we wake up, it’s a miracle. Right before our eyes, we go towards danger, it’s a miracle that God gets us to NY and back.
No one in their right mind runs towards danger. In your right mind, you run from danger.
But when God promises us in His Word that “no evil shall befall you neither shall any plague come near your dwelling,” either God is telling the truth, or He lied, and God can’t be trusted.
Then Romans 13 talks about “All authority comes from God.”
Are we disrespecting secular authority? You’re only disrespecting secular authority when you break the law.
The COVID restrictions, guidelines, and policy directives weren’t law. They were guidelines and directives implemented to manage a national emergency crisis. It gave governors emergency powers to manage a pandemic, but it turned into a complete power trip.
In order to make their guidelines, and directives have teeth, they imposed threats of fines, and jail. This added to the fear and many houses of worship remained closed.
But are we to fear man over God?
Respect of authority, when their directives do not unreasonably restrict true believers is to be considered for our own good, but when they begin to target only houses of worship without applying them evenly and fairly to all the people, isn’t fair.
Many believers, as a result, developed unbelief and hardness of heart.
Death is serious. COVID is serious. However, these serious Scriptures came to mind.
Psalms 84:11-12 (NKJV Strong’s)
“For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
The LORD will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.
O LORD of hosts,
Blessed is the man who trusts in You!”
You see. If we’re doing what we’re supposed to do, God will not withhold health from His people.
If God lied, God cannot be trusted.
If we’re not upright, God will withhold the good thing from us.
Psalms 91:10 (NKJV Strong’s)
“No evil shall befall you,
Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;”
If God lied, God cannot be trusted.
Psalms 103:1-5 (NKJV Strong’s)
“Bless the LORD, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”
If God lied, then God can’t be trusted.
Numbers 23:19 (NKJV Strong’s)
“God is not a man, that He should lie,
Nor a son of man, that He should repent.
Has He said, and will He not do?
Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?”
Hebrews 6:16-19 (NKJV Strong’s)
“For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute. Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil…”
If God lied, God cannot be trusted.
The events of our time has revealed many things in our hearts.
Even sclerosis of the heart.
Let’s not be like the disciples that even when Jesus appeared, they had unbelief and hardness of heart.
Hardness of heart occurs when in the face of irrefutable, uncontroverted evidence, you refuse to believe it. The disciples were told over and over again that Jesus would rise from the dead.
He appeared to them, and they were rebuked for their unbelief, and hardness of heart.
Are you willing to lay aside your unbelief and hardness of heart?