Just the Facts

Matthew’s report of the disciple’s doubt ironically works against our own.

Chris Hutchison on May 18, 2020

Matthew 28:17 tells us, “And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted” (Matthew 28:17). We didn’t touch on this verse in the sermon yesterday, but it’s actually a really important verse because of the way it speaks of the historical accuracy of Matthew’s account.

We should notice that the doubt of some is reported very factually: “Some doubted.” There’s no mention of the reasons why, and no resolution (like “But when they heard his voice all doubt vanished”). It just says that some doubted.

If Matthew (or some other author) was making this story up, telling tales and myths about Jesus that never actually happened, do you think he’d invent this detail? “Some doubted.” Of course not, because it raises too many questions. “Why did they doubt? Was something ‘off’ about ‘Jesus’? Should I doubt too?” The only reason you’d include this difficult detail is because it actually happened and you’re just telling things the way they were. 

A similar example occurs earlier in chapter 28. Who were the first witnesses to the resurrection? “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary” (Matthew 28:1). In Matthew’s day, women were not seen as being very trustworthy. Their witness didn’t mean much legally and held no water in a court of law. And so, if you were making this up, you’d surely say that the first witnesses to the resurrection were men, and likely men of influence and repute. The only reason you’d say they were women is if things really happened that way and you were just reporting on the facts. 

Matthew’s willingness to include potentially damaging details in his report boosts our confidence that he was actually telling the truth, and had been all along.


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