Inconsistencies within the Resurrection Story can be used to underscore the veracity of the writers. Let me point out a few for you. First, in a male-dominated culture, it would be unthinkable to promote a story that the women arrived first and heard the words of the Resurrected Jesus before the male disciples. But the truth is that Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were the first to go to the sepulcher and encounter Jesus. They were the first to announce the resurrection of Jesus!
Another example is the overwhelming doubt exhibited by so many of Jesus’ followers. When the disciples had first heard of the resurrection testimonies by the women and the Emmaus Road disciples, many of Jesus’ followers responded with doubt (Mk 16:11-13; Luke 24:11,41). Matthew 28:17 states that in spite of 40 days of resurrection appearances there still remained those in doubt. But perhaps the most striking story of doubt is that of Thomas as recorded in John 20.
I’d like to take a few minutes to look at Thomas. He appears but scant times in the Gospel story. He is listed as being a disciple in the other Gospels, but only John’s Gospel unveils this disciple’s true nature. We first encounter Thomas in John 11:16 at the raising of Lazarus from the dead. Here, he boasted that he was ready to go to Jerusalem and die with Jesus! Well, we all know how that turned out!
Next, on the last Passover in the Upper Room, Jesus told His disciples that He was going to depart from them and go to His Father. Jesus said that the disciples should by now know the way to the Father. Thomas, speaking for the disciples, confessed that they did not know the way (John 14:1-7). Jesus responded to Thomas’ confession by stating that He is the way, the truth, and the life and that no one comes unto the Father except by Him. Jesus followed this truth by stating that if Thomas had known Him, he should know His Father also. Thomas was listed as a disciple, but Jesus calls into question his belief in Him and His Father!
The next encounter we have with Thomas is in John 20, after the resurrection. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary have testified of Jesus’ resurrection. Peter and John have visited the empty tomb. The Emmaus Road disciples have returned with their testimony of encountering Jesus. Then Jesus appeared unto the disciples, but without Thomas being present. Why he was not among the other disciples remains unknown, but it is part of John’s Gospel. When Thomas heard the testimony of the disciples, he responded in doubt. He said, “Unless I shall see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” (20:25) Thus, Thomas set the conditions or terms for his believing. He had previously said that he was willing to give his life for Jesus, but now his true heart condition is revealed.
Eight days later, Jesus appeared again unto the disciples, but this time Thomas was present. Jesus immediately said to Thomas, “Reach here your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand, and put it into My side: and be not unbelieving, but believing.” (John 20:27) The Ever-present Lord had heard Thomas’ conditions! Thomas answered Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28)
Then Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” (John 20:29) There is no record of Thomas actually touching Jesus’ hands or side, so we do not know if this actually took place. The record does include Thomas’ acknowledgment, “My Lord and my God,” but ends with Jesus’ question, “have you believed?” Jesus was asking Thomas to come to a commitment. He challenged Thomas to make a firm decision.
Understand the dilemma being described.
In spite of Jesus’ call upon Thomas, his being with the disciples for three years, having experienced all of the miracles, having heard all the teachings of Jesus, and realizing all the prophecies being fulfilled in his presence, Thomas remained indecisive concerning Jesus! He just could not make up his mind! So, what is the problem?
The problem is “dipsuchos.” What is that you may ask? “Dipsuchos” is what James 1:8 states is the root cause of an unstable person. The Greek word means a two-spirited person who vacillates between two opinions or purposes. This is a person who is stuck between two sides of an issue and is unable to make up his mind which is the correct side. He apparently is able to see both the correct and incorrect side of the issue at hand. His mind tells him which is the correct side, but his heart struggles to embrace it.
Spiritually, this describes a person who has outwardly gone through all the correct steps to be a follower of Jesus but who has not yet embraced the Lord inwardly. Thomas was listed among the disciples for three years, but still had doubts concerning the reality of Jesus and the Christian life!
James says that a double-minded person is unstable “in all his ways.” Double-mindedness impacts every decision area of his life – his finances, his family, his convictions, his purchases, his relationships, his priorities, etc. The list is endless!
Jesus, in Luke 16:13, described this condition when He said, “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other, or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Mammon.” His mind says to love, but his selfish heart says to hate. His mind says to embrace the one, but his calculating heart says to despise the other. He vacillates between wanting God and desiring Mammon!
The Bible is replete with verses concerning instability caused by double-mindedness: Prov 24:21, Jer 2:36, Hos 6:4, Eph 4:14, Heb 13:9, Jam 1:6, 2 Kgs 17:33, Zeph 1:4-5, and 1 Cor 10:21).
Unfortunately, the Bible records many examples of persons with this problem: Jehu (2 Kngs 10:31), Joash (2 Kngs 13:18-19), Jehoshaphat’s subjects (2 Cr 20:33), Amaziah (2 Chr 25:2), Judah (Jer 3:10), and Israel (Hos 10:2).
Double-mindedness is a result of double-heartedness (Literal Hebrew “a heart and a heart;” Hos 6:4). This person has a heart to do what is right but a heart to do what self desires. Which heart will win out is always in question. A double-hearted person, often referred to as half-hearted, is double-minded and is double-tongued as a result (1 Tim 3:8). This condition is one of saying one thing to one person and then saying something different to someone else. At times, this person will say or agree to one thing, but then later say or agree to something else. Because he is unstable in his heart and mind, he is also unstable in what he says.
Others around a double-minded person have difficulty knowing what his intentions are and have further difficulty believing what he says. Because he vacillates between a divided heart, he becomes indecisive and unreliable. At what time does one take him at his word?
The Apostle Paul, in Eph 4:14, seems to indicate that this problem is deeply rooted in childhood and is evidenced by immaturity in the life of an adult. He will constantly refer back to childhood experiences that have shaped his decision-making abilities!
James offers a solution to double-mindedness in Jam 4:8, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” In other words, only through genuinely coming to God, confessing one’s true spiritual condition, and then thoroughly purifying the heart can a double-minded person finally find peace and maturity. The purifying of the heart of lies and child-like thinking leaves the person with only one choice to make – the correct one!
Now back to Thomas, a question lingers after so many centuries. Traditions have Thomas embracing Jesus and them embarking on mission trips to India. And yet, we only have the sure Word of God that leaves the question dangling: “have you believed?” Thomas, or “Twin” (see John 11:16), had a twin within him: a double-heart. Which one prevailed? Did Thomas embrace Jesus or did Thomas embrace himself?
Characteristics of the Double-Minded:
- Favorite Hero in life: himself. Can’t decide on any one else!
- Favorite Color: any color except a primary color!
- Favorite Number: the number two! Least favorite is the number one! Three may be even better than two!
- Least Favorite Decision in Life: any decision that was made for him!
Needed Verses for the Double-Minded:
- Joshua 24:15 “Choose you this day whom ye will serve.”
- 1 Kings 18:21 “And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, ‘How long halt ye between two opinions? If the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him.’ And the people answered him not a word.”
- Matt 15:8 (quoting Is 29:13; see also Mk 7:6, Col 2:22) “This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from me.”
(Written by Rob Finley on Resurrection Morning 2012)