Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized them as companions of Jesus. When they saw the man who had been cured standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. So they ordered them to leave the council while they discussed the matter with one another. They said, “What will we do with them? For it is obvious to all who live in Jerusalem that a notable sign has been done through them; we cannot deny it. But to keep it from spreading further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” So they called them and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in God’s sight to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; for we cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard.” After threatening them again, they let them go, finding no way to punish them because of the people, for all of them praised God for what had happened.
Psalm 118: 1, 14-21
O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his steadfast love endures forever!
The Lord is my strength and my might;
he has become my salvation.
There are glad songs of victory in the tents of the righteous:
“The right hand of the Lord does valiantly;
the right hand of the Lord is exalted;
the right hand of the Lord does valiantly.”
I shall not die, but I shall live,
and recount the deeds of the Lord.
The Lord has punished me severely,
but he did not give me over to death.
Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them
and give thanks to the Lord.
This is the gate of the Lord;
the righteous shall enter through it.
I thank you that you have answered me
and have become my salvation.
Now after he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. She went out and told those who had been with him, while they were mourning and weeping. But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.
After this he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.
Later he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were sitting at the table; and he upbraided them for their lack of faith and stubbornness, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. (NRSVCE)
The story recounted in the gospel today feels all too familiar to someone who has shared the gospel to someone who did not believe it. The people closest to Jesus, His disciples, did not even believe the word of eye witnesses to the Resurrection. When Jesus appeared to them, He had to scold them for their lack of faith and stubbornness. For those who do believe that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, forever conquering sin and death, it can be easy to take it for granted sometimes. Yet, the gift of faith to believe is truly an incredible gift from God.
While the story in the gospel can be discouraging in that we see disciple after disciple fail to believe the good news told to them, we also see that conversion is only possible through Jesus Christ. Those who did not believe needed to see Jesus in order to believe. If you have ever seen someone come to the Lord either for the first time or after a period of disbelief, you realize just how not responsible you are. While Jesus works through His people to share the message of His death and resurrection, it is God alone who converts people.
We cannot be grateful enough for the death and resurrection of Jesus. More than that, though, we cannot be grateful enough for the gift of believing in Jesus Christ. It is not through our own power or knowledge that we believe but only by His power and grace. If you are a follower of Jesus and profess His death and resurrection thank God today for the great gift of faith. Pray earnestly for an increase in faith and pray for those in your life who do not believe. Bring them to the Lord everyday and entrust them to His mercy.
Prayer: Dearest Lord Jesus. Thank you for your death and resurrection. Thank you for the gift of faith to believe in your word and follow you. Please help me to continue to grow closer to you in my daily walk and grant grace to those who do not believe. Lord, I bring to you those I know who do not believe in you. Through your mercy may they come to believe. Amen.