Misguided Zeal of Christians Due to Unbelief

The devil planned two assaults on Jesus at His death. One was on His soul to remain in hell and the other was on His body. The devil tried to keep His soul captive in hell but that did not work (Psalm 16 vs 10) and the second was to ensure that His body was secured in the sepulcher. When the devil failed to keep neither his soul and body, he knew the redemption of all things has come, then he tried to frame up the resurrection testimony by lying that His disciples stole His body away – a false testimony that is still common among the Jews till today (Matt 28 vs 11-15).

Secret meeting a day after His Crucifixion
Unknown to the disciples, there had been a secret discussion the following day after Jesus’s death: Matthew 27:62-66: The next day, on the Sabbath, the leading priests and Pharisees went to see Pilate. They told him, “Sir, we remember what that deceiver once said while he was still alive: ‘After three days I will rise from the dead.’ So we request that you seal the tomb until the third day. This will prevent his disciples from coming and stealing his body and then telling everyone he was raised from the dead! If that happens, we’ll be worse off than we were at first.” Pilate replied, “Take guards and secure it the best you can.” So they sealed the tomb and posted guards to protect it. (NLT)

The leading Priest and the Pharisees persuaded Pilate to seal and post guards to Jesus’s Tomb until the third day to prevent his disciples from coming to steal his body and publish to everyone that He has risen. They have marked the disciples as a possible perpetrator spreading the resurrection story.

Entering the snare of the devil
The women, Peter and John that went to the sepulcher were walking straight into the trap of the devil because there had been a discussion about his disciples taking away Jesus’s body. The devil was just waiting for which of His disciples will enter the trap to serve as evidence. The women arose in a zeal to the sepulcher a great while before dawn that they might anoint his body but this zeal was from an unbelieving heart about the resurrection and it was a belated offering for they were looking for the living among the dead. The same for his disciples; Peter and John, they ran with a great zeal born out of unbelief to the sepulcher because their hearts were in doubt of His resurrection.

Keeping my heart on God’s Word
Mary Magdalene and other women knew the location of the tomb and observed as a great stone was used to close the entrance the day He was crucified. But the question we need to ask ourselves is, “Why were they going to the sepulcher when they knew the sepulcher had been blocked with a great stone and they had no idea how the stone will be rolled away?” Moreso Jesus had told them while in Galilee that He would be crucified, and on the third day rises again. However, they forgot what the Lord had told them: Mark 16:3 On the way they were asking each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” Luke 24:6-7 He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.

Belated sacrifice to God
The Women’s service to God was to anoint the body of Jesus after the custom of the Jews; which was to anoint the body of the dead, but Jesus’s body had been anointed for his burial before He died by Mary the sister to Martha. Mary Magdalene and the other women wanted to use the traditional species but what Mary, sister to Martha used was an uncommon and expensive perfume. Thus, we saw that that service ended in futility because the body of Jesus had been resurrected.

Church/World traditions and customs: Hindrance to the move of the Holy Spirit
We saw that the women followed their customary and traditional practice to anoint the body of the dead, yet it was a belated sacrifice. I have seen many Church denominations today adopting worldly traditions/customs into God’s service and this has hindered them from experiencing the move of the Holy Spirit and made them lose His power. Our service to God cannot be a common practice of the world but that which is uncommon, revealed by the leading of the Holy Spirit according to the word of God- It demands our whole soul, life, and all. Any Church’s customs or traditions that do not align with God’s word should be discarded else it will expose the Church to unfruitful work and she won’t be a light in the world but a hideout for sin, flesh, and the devils.

These were Jesus and Angel’s instructions at various points:
1. Before his death he told His disciples:
Matthew 26:32 But after I have been raised from the dead (on the third day), I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.” (NLT)
See also Matt 18:21
2. At the resurrection morning before seeing Jesus, the angel told the women:
Mark 16:6-7 And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.
See also Matthew 28:7
3. Jesus told the women at the resurrection morning:
Matthew 28:9-10 And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet and worshipped him. Then said Jesus unto them, be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.

Consequences of this unbelief
After 3 warnings none of the disciples went to Galilee. The consequences of this unbelief were:
1. Zealous but unfruitful
2. The disciples and the women could have been arrested assuming they were caught at the sepulcher.
3. The devil wanted to discredit the disciples among their fellow Jews. They won’t be able to share the resurrection testimony because their names would have been defamed.
Although the rumour continues today among the Jews that His disciples took His body away, there was no evidence because neither the women nor His disciples were seen at the sepulcher.
4. Trapped
The whole matter of the disciples locking themselves in a house for fear of the Jews won’t have been necessary if they had believed what Jesus said about his death and resurrection. They ought to have covered some distance to Galilee after His crucifixion because they could only cover a short and limited distance on the Sabbath which is the next day or travel very early on the resurrection morning to meet Him at Galilee just as He had told them instead of the women, Peter and John going to the Sepulcher.
They would have made it in good time out of the city before the frame-up began. And indeed, the propaganda won’t be believed in Jerusalem at daybreak seeing that his disciples had left the city. I supposed Cleopas and the other disciples decided to leave Jerusalem for Emmaus for fear of the Jews.
5. Jesus changed His course

  • A. He could not ascend to the Father first until He set the wandering sheep to safety- Mary Magdalene. Here is the master’s love that none that the Father gave to him will be lost. (Thank you for your love!).
  • B. He had to meet with the other women by the way and told them to go quickly because the feet of the evil ones (watchers) are almost entering the gate to start the frame-up (Matt 28 vs. 11 – 15)
  • C. He had to reveal himself to Peter, the two disciples on the way to Emmaus, the 10 disciples in the evening of the resurrection, and 11 disciples after 8 days.
    Jesus was to appear before the Father first as a fulfillment of our wave-sheaf offering (Exo 29v19-28), then to Galilee but he needed to gather the sheep that were in doubt and fear at Jerusalem and Emmaus.

6. The Great Commission was about to be lost
The disciples were to be commissioned for their assignment in Galilee, but they refused to go due to unbelief and when they went, they shifted their attention back to their profession probably because of shame.

A. Why did they refuse to go to Galilee until at least a week after the resurrection?
Jesus was expecting His disciples to meet with Him at Galilee after the resurrection, but they didn’t go because they failed to believe He will resurrect and were afraid of the Jews. The disciples after seeing the resurrected Christ in Jerusalem twice decided to go to Galilee. They stayed in Jerusalem for about one week before they went to Galilee. Even their stay in Galilee was not to carry out the assignment, “Go ye and make disciples of every nation, as the father sent me, so I am sending you….; John 20:21, rather about Eight (8) of them went fishing. The assumption during the Easter celebration that the next day after his resurrection (Easter Monday) is the Galilee experience is not scriptural accurate. The disciples waited in Jerusalem for at least another eight days before they went to Galilee.

B. Letting go of the plow and looking back:
Why did the disciples go back to their fishing profession despite seeing the resurrected Jesus in His glory?
Shame and sentiment: When we don’t take away shame and sentiment from our hearts it will wane the love of Christ. What do you expect from these men of Galilee when their master was not always present in the body with them anymore? Can you imagine what their families, relatives, and tribal men would remind them, “But we told you not to drop this profession years ago but you won’t listen to us, now where is your master?” This question was like what Elisha was asked by the sons of the Prophet. All these could frustrate our response to the Master’s call despite seeing the resurrected Jesus but when the Holy Spirit came upon them at Pentecost, every shame, sentiment, and fear was dispelled.

Other reasons a disciple could look back are found in the article Peter’s Penitence and Confession.

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny

No power of Hell (Devil and his demons),
No scheme of Man (Pilate, the Pharisees, and the chief priest),
Could ever pluck me from His hand,
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand

Sunday Oladiran is a teacher of God's Word, committed to the revival and reformation of the body of Christ. He lives in Ibadan, Nigeria, together with his wife, Bukola. They have two children.

Further reading

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