It just might be the most unusual phrase in the entire Bible.
You’ll find it buried deep inside Matthew’s Gospel, one of the biographies of the life of Jesus. The out-of-place, three-word phrase is so far into the story, and surrounded by so much majesty, it’s easy to miss.
But it’s there.
Other than this out-of-place trinity of words, the setting is perfect for the ending of Matthew’s story. After three years of teaching that turned the world upside down, after miracle after stunning miracle, after the cross, and after the resurrection, Jesus meets with his disciples one last time.
They’ve climbed a tall mountain to hear a tall order from the risen Messiah.
They have seen the unbelievable. They have been eye-witnesses to the unspeakable. Even here, more of the miraculous is waiting.
In a matter of moments, Jesus will be gone.
But before the Great Commission, there is a Great Mystery.
“When they saw him,” Matthew writes, “they worshipped him; but some doubted.”
“… But some doubted?”
Are you kidding me?
This is the climatic moment of the most amazing story the world would ever see. These 11 disciples had held the proof of the miracles in their very hands. They had passed out the miraculous meals. They had hugged the former lepers. They had helped Lazarus out of his funeral suit.
At that very moment, they were standing in the presence of a man they’d seen crucified and buried. Yet he was very much alive. The scars in his hands and feet were only inches away. They could not have asked for more proof. No more could have been given.
“… But some doubted?”
If that doesn’t stun you, the reaction of Jesus should.
For Jesus did not scold them, fire them or disqualify them from service. Instead, he told them to change the world.
“Go,” he said to those who still dared to doubt, “and make disciples of all nations.”
Maybe they doubted themselves. That, at least, makes sense.
Maybe they wondered how men with so little faith could convince anyone else to take a step of faith. After their massive group failure in Jerusalem, the one thing they knew for sure was that they were a long way from being disciples worthy of such a task.
And yet Jesus told them to go.
The lesson? Your doubts are no reason to keep you from doing what you feel called to do, either.
You already know this.
When you drove a car for the very first time, didn’t you pull away with a tank full of doubt? In that first job, wasn’t the first week a constant battle with your nerves? And what about that first baby? Weren’t you stunned that there was no instruction manual?
Doubts and insecurities are a natural part of life.
But they make lousy excuses. If you waited until you had no doubts before you made an investment, started the conversation, or popped the question, you’ll one day suffer the horrible fate of dying … without ever having lived.
If God has asked you to do something that frightens you, welcome to the club. People have had their doubts about this thing since Jesus left them standing on a mountain with an impossible job to tackle.
Come to think of it, Abraham, Moses and Gideon would echo that message, too. David, Daniel and Ruth all faced their own seasons of doubt, but all moved forward in faith and soon found that God used their insecurities to make them very, very secure.
If God ever calls you to a task, the first thing you’ll likely have to face is overcoming your own fear.
So take the first step. Make the first move.
It’s the only way you’ll ever know the thrill of doing your part to change the world.
There’s no doubt about it.
Note: Still shot from the “Jesus” film used by permission.