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The apostles were the biggest skeptics of Jesus’ resurrection


Caravaggio | Public Domain

Philip Kosloski - published on 04/25/24

While Jesus did all he could to prepare his apostles for his death and resurrection, they still had their own doubts that he would rise from the dead.

Sometimes we can be tempted to think that the apostles were these perfect men who completely trusted Jesus and accepted everything that he said to them without hesitation.

While it is true that they would eventually be recognized as saints and many gave their lives in martyrdom, the apostles didn’t always have rock-solid faith.

Even when it came to Jesus’ resurrection, many of the apostles doubted that Jesus would rise from the dead.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us of the apostles’ faith after Jesus’ death and how they were the biggest skeptics of Jesus’ resurrection:

The shock provoked by the Passion was so great that at least some of the disciples did not at once believe in the news of the Resurrection. Far from showing us a community seized by a mystical exaltation, the Gospels present us with disciples demoralized (“looking sad”) and frightened. For they had not believed the holy women returning from the tomb and had regarded their words as an “idle tale“. When Jesus reveals himself to the Eleven on Easter evening, “he upbraided them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.”

CCC 643

This is helpful for us to know, as sometimes our own faith in Jesus’ resurrection can be weak.

We may have learned in Sunday school that Jesus rose from the dead, and we may even recite the Creed every Sunday at Mass, but on the inside, we still have doubts that Jesus rose from the dead.

Did Jesus rise from the dead?

It can be especially difficult if our education included critical references to the Bible or characterized the Gospels as conflicting accounts of a man who claimed he was the Messiah.

We may begin to have our own doubts about Jesus, whether he really walked on this earth, or whether he physically rose from the dead.

What’s surprising is that the apostles had similar doubts, and they walked and talked with Jesus on a daily basis.

The Catechism even comments on how some of the apostles thought Jesus was a ghost and was not actually with them after he rose from the dead:

Even when faced with the reality of the risen Jesus the disciples are still doubtful, so impossible did the thing seem: they thought they were seeing a ghost. “In their joy they were still disbelieving and still wondering.” Thomas will also experience the test of doubt and St. Matthew relates that during the risen Lord’s last appearance in Galilee “some doubted.” Therefore the hypothesis that the Resurrection was produced by the apostles’ faith (or credulity) will not hold up. On the contrary their faith in the Resurrection was born, under the action of divine grace, from their direct experience of the reality of the risen Jesus.

CCC 644

It’s important to remember that belief in Jesus’ resurrection is not easy and that we need God’s grace for it to take a lasting hold in our lives.

If the apostles had a difficult time believing in Jesus’ resurrection, we shouldn’t be surprised if we have our own doubts.

The key is to trust in God and let him lead us along the path of faith.

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