Jesus called twelve choice men in order to form the apostolic collegiate and to accomplish the great work of evangelization of the peoples after his assumption: “Now the names of the twelve apostles are these. The first, Simon, who is called Peter; Andrew, his brother; James the son of Zebedee; John, his brother; Philip; Bartholomew; Thomas; Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus; Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite; and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him” (Matt. 10:2-4). It is obvious that Jesus taught them concerning the great mission. Many times Jesus spoke about how his death and resurrection would be. We will mention one: “While they were staying in Galilee, Jesus said to them, ‘The Son of Man is about to be delivered up into the hands of men, and they will kill him, and the third day he will be raised up.’ They were exceedingly sorry” (Matt. 17:22-23). Did they understand what Jesus was speaking to them? It looks like they did not. They waited for a Messiah that would not die, but rather rule with a rod of iron, according to the promise made to Jehovah: “I will tell of the decree. Jehovah said to me, ‘You are my son. Today I have become your father. Ask of me, and I will give the nations for your inheritance, the uttermost parts of the earth for your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron. You shall dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel’” (Ps. 2:7-9). Jesus’ talk about his death and resurrection was completely out of the prophecy and of the Jewish hope. In Ps. 47:3, we read: “He [Jehovah] subdues nations under us, and peoples under our feet.”
The first one not to believe in the death and resurrection was Peter, the rock. Let us read the text: “Then he commanded the disciples that they should tell no one that he was Jesus the Christ. From that time, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and the third day be raised up. Peter took him aside, and began to rebuke him, saying, ‘Far be it from you, Lord! This will never be done to you.’ But he turned, and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me, for you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of men’” (Matt. 16:20-23). Because he did not believe in the death and resurrection of Christ, because he was convinced that the Messiah had come to rule and not to die, he was called “Satan.” This fact teaches us that the death of Christ was not in the plans of Satan. The most interesting thing is that Peter was called “Satan” soon after he had the revelation from God that Jesus Christ was the Messiah and received the primacy of the Church from Jesus (Matt. 16:13-20). Fantastic! He receives from the hands of Jesus the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and is he then called “Satan,” because he did not believe in the resurrection?
The second not to believe was Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus by selling him to the priests for 30 silver coins (Matt. 26:47-56). And Judas, remorseful, went away and hung himself (Matt. 27:1-5).
The third unbeliever was Thomas. This was what happened: The other nine disciples, afraid of the Jews, were confabulating in a safely closed room. Jesus, then, appeared in the middle of them, who, amazed, went to tell Thomas, who had been absent. He said: “The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25). Eight days after that they were gathered again, and Thomas was with them. “After eight days again his disciples were inside, and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, the doors being locked, and stood in the midst, and said, ‘Peace be to you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Reach here your finger, and see my hands. Reach here your hand, and put it into my side. Don’t be unbelieving, but believing.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God’” (John 20:26-28).
And what about the other nine disciples? Did they believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ? Let us read what the evangelist Luke said: “He took the twelve aside, and said to them, ‘Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all the things that are written through the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be completed. For he will be delivered up to the Gentiles, will be mocked, treated shamefully, and spit on. They will scourge and kill him. On the third day, he will rise again. They understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they didn’t understand the things that were said” (Luke 18:31-34). Jesus tried to teach the twelve disciples, but the god of this world blinded their understanding with an unfulfilled lie (2 Cor. 4:4). Jesus had by his side twelve men that did not believe in his death and resurrection. The death of Jesus put and end to the promise of the Messiah. Let us prove that: After the death of Jesus, the two Maries went to the tomb of Jesus in the early hours of the day (Matt. 28:1). The stone had been removed from the tomb. They were afraid and saw two men in shining clothes who said to them: “”Why do you seek the living among the dead? He isn’t here, but is risen. Remember what He told you when he was still in Galilee” (Luke 24:1-7). They went where the twelve and the others were and told them what had happened. Their words seemed to them a fantasy, and they did not believe (Luke 24:9-11). Since they did not believe, they were not saved, for only those who believe in the resurrection are justified before God. Paul wrote: “But for our sake also, to whom it will be accounted, who believe in him who raised Jesus, our Lord, from the dead, who was delivered up for our trespasses, and was raised for our justification” (Rom. 4:24-25). Jesus’ death reconciles but does not save anyone. Let us read the text: “For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we will be saved by his life” (Rom. 5:10). Jesus walked with his twelve unbelieving and carnal apostles for three years. Peter, the principal among them denied him shamefully: “Now Peter was sitting outside in the court, and a maid came to him, saying, ‘You were also with Jesus, the Galilean!’ But he denied it before them all, saying, ‘I don’t know what you are talking about.’ When he had gone out onto the porch, someone else saw him, and said to those who were there, ‘This man also was with Jesus of Nazareth.’ Again he denied it with an oath, ‘I don’t know the man.’ After a little while those who stood by came and said to Peter, ‘Surely you are also one of them, for your speech makes you known.’ Then he began to curse and to swear, ‘I don’t know the man!’ (Matt. 26:69-74). An amazing fact is that the apostles were not even converted. Let us read Luke: “The Lord said, ‘Simon, Simon, behold, Satan asked to have you, that he might sift you as wheat, but I prayed for you, that your faith wouldn’t fail. You, when once you have turned again, establish your brothers’” (Luke 22:31-32). This happened before the crucifixion.
The evangelist Mark narrates the incredulity with precision: “When they heard that he was alive, and had been seen by her, they disbelieved. After these things he was revealed in another form to two of them, as they walked, on their way into the country. They went away and told it to the rest. They didn’t believe them, either. Afterward he was revealed to the eleven themselves as they sat at the table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief” (Mark 16:11-14).
Do you know who did believe in the resurrection before Jesus died? Do you know? Dimas, did; the thief crucified with Jesus. He was the only believer. There were three crosses and three crucified men: “One of the criminals who was hanged insulted him, saying, ‘If you are the Christ, save yourself and us!’ But the other answered, and rebuking him said, ‘Don’t you even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.’ He said to Jesus, ‘LORD, REMEMBER ME WHEN YOU COME INTO YOUR KINGDOM.’ Jesus said to him, ‘ASSUREDLY I TELL YOU, TODAY YOU WILL BE WITH ME IN PARADISE’” (Luke 23:39-43). Dimas was more believing than the twelve apostles! What about you, our reader?