The gospel writers are honest about this. In Mark’s gospel, for example, we are told that the women who witnessed the empty tomb were so confused and afraid, that they said nothing to anyone.
In Luke, when the women reported to the disciples what they had experienced and who they had encountered at the grave site, we are told that the disciples refused to believe them. Later when Jesus suddenly appeared in their presence, they cowered back thinking they were seeing a ghost. “Why are you frightened,” Jesus said, “and why do doubts arise in your hearts”.
In the Gospel of John, even after the disciples had had a personal encounter with the resurrected Jesus, they still had a difficult time believing, so much so that they decided to go back to their old way of life! “I’m going fishing,” Peter said, and the others agreed to go with him.
Matthew’s Gospel tells us quite plainly that some believed, but others doubted.
N.T. Wright, the New Testament scholar, contends that the notion that an individual could be raised from the dead was not a concept familiar to Judaism. The disciples, he writes, would never have expected their fellow Jews to believe that Jesus rose from the dead. They, themselves, couldn’t have imagined it . . . yet this is what they came to believe. It was a belief that transformed their lives. In fact, they gave their lives in witness to it.
In the April 16, 2014 edition of The Christian Century Magazine, John Buchannan, the magazine’s editor, diverted his readers from contemplating the science of the resurrection to its mystery and meaning. “People come to church on Easter,” he writes, “because there is serious business on the agenda. They are not there to hear an explanation of how a dead body got up and walked out of the tomb. The four biblical accounts are lean: each tells the story slightly differently and none provides a detailed account of the resurrection itself. It is almost as if they are telling us, like someone who warns us not to look too directly at the bright sun, that we should not try to look too directly, that we should perceive this event in a different, deeper way – more heart than mind, more wonder than analysis.” “Some things,” he concludes, “are bigger than our ability to say them”.