In the Gospel of Luke, chapter 24, verses 13-35, two disciples are on the road to Emmaus. From the context of the passage we can infer that they are not in the inner circle of Jesus but they are devout followers. They can’t understand why the man they meet on the road does not know what happened in Jerusalem.
They tell this man (Jesus), "We were hoping that he was the one who was going to rescue Israel. And some women of our number astonished us because they went to the tomb and did not find his body, and they had a vision of angels who said that he was alive."
And so when these two men later realized it was Jesus they had been talking with and walking with, they hurried back to Jerusalem and found the eleven gathered and those with them and found that those gathered were saying “it is a fact that the Lord has risen, and he has appeared to Simon." And they told them all that had happened on the road and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
The disciples said, "It was a fact that the Lord has risen. And he has appeared to Simon." Yet in the very next passage, when Jesus stands in the midst of them and says, “Peace to you” they are terrified because they thought they were seeing a ghost or a spirit.
See, intellectually they knew it--it is a fact that he is risen. They knew it in their head. But because they had not experienced the presence of Jesus for themselves they could not wrap their heads around the fact that Jesus was alive. They had seen him die. They had seen him be beaten and tortured. They had seen the centurion thrust his spear into the side of Jesus. They had seen him be put into a tomb and a stone rolled across the opening. How could Jesus be alive after all of that?
Yet, they were told that he was, and he even appeared to Simon.
I think sometimes that is the way it is for many Christians, and for me. I know the facts. I know the Bible very well because I have read it for most of my life. The stories are in my head and many of them I know by heart. Intellectually I know the Bible and I know Jesus. I know God exists…in my head. I know Jesus is alive…in my head.
Sometimes, because I haven’t experienced the physical presence of Jesus for myself, I still find it hard to grasp. I still find it hard to be passionate about my faith.
Sometimes I still think of God as someone I do not want to disappoint. I haven’t experienced his grace for myself.
But I still have to rely on that grace. As much as I accept it intellectually I have to rely on the grace of God for salvation. There is no other way.
And even if I doubt, as long as I accept the grace of God, then God will accept that and accept me, and will welcome me in to his kingdom.