No Doubt Series
Contributed by Jeff Strite on Apr 3, 2021 (message contributor)
Summary: The famous opponent of Christianity - Voltaire - actually believed the dead could be raised. He believed in a famous scientist of the day who maintained he had done just that. Voltaire rejected Jesus and His real resurrection and embraced a scientist and his false claim.
Back in 1694, a man named Voltaire was born in Paris France. Voltaire was a famous writer, philosopher and intellectual of the day, but he was best known for was his hatred of the church of his day. He devoted himself to attacking and ridiculing Christianity at every opportunity, and he was a vocal critic of Biblical miracles… including the Resurrection of Jesus. But ironically, at one point in his life, Voltaire declared that he believed in the resurrection of the dead. He believed it could happen, but he rejected the claims that Jesus had risen. Why would Voltaire believe that the dead could live again? Because a respected Italian scientist named Spallanzani reported to the Royal Society of London (prominent scientists of the day) that he’d done just that. And THEY believed his research - he’d raised the dead! Well… he didn’t actually resurrect human bodies, or dogs or cats or anything like that. He did it with microbes. Microbes. What he’d done was take obviously dead microbes and sprinkled water (they weren’t moving) and they lived again. They moved.
Now, to give Spallanzani credit, he wasn’t satisfied with just a couple of experiments. He repeatedly experimented on the Microbes until he realized the microbes weren’t actually dead. They were dormant… dehydrated. And when he’d sprinkled water on them, all he’d actually done was “quench their thirst” and made it so they revived. They were never actually dead.
But initially Voltaire – who rejected the resurrection of Jesus Christ – totally embraced Spallanzani’s claim that he could raise the dead. Voltaire even said: “When a man like him announces that he has brought the dead back to life, we have to believe him.” And not only had Voltaire believed this scientist, so had a number of Europe’s elite intellectuals. And they all believed him for the same reason: “When a man like him announces that he has brought the dead back to life, we have to believe him” (Strange History, Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader, p 174)
APPLY: Now, with that story in our minds let’s go to our text today: Jesus had just risen from the dead, and He appeared to all His disciples who were hiding in a locked room. Well… He appeared to all of them except… Thomas. We don’t know where Thomas was at, but he wasn’t there! And later, when he joined his friends they excitedly tell him about seeing Jesus. BUT THOMAS… DOUBTED. He said the others “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” From that day on, Thomas has always been referred to as “Doubting Thomas.” In fact, if someone is known to doubt things that they’re told, they’re often referred to as “Doubting Thomases.”
Now, let’s take a look at this man named Thomas. We don’t know much about him. We know that he obviously had a twin somewhere (he’s called “Thomas the twin”); and we know he’s kind of outspoken (he said “unless I see & touch Jesus I will NEVER believe”); and we know that he’s a … doubting Thomas (we’ll back to that in just a bit).
But there’s a couple of other episodes in Thomas’ life help us understand the man. He strikes me as basically a “meat and potatoes man.” He’s very cut and dried in thinks. He forms an opinion… and he tends to obstinately stick to that opinion (kind of like a few people I personally know).
For example, one time Jesus said to His disciples "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going." And Thomas said to him, John 14:5 "Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" To which Jesus replies “I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes unto the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
Jesus was basically telling His disciples that after He died, He’d be going to heaven to prepare the place there for them (and us) to come and join Him there. But Thomas had trouble thinking outside the box. He essentially says to “Where are YOU Going???” He has a hard time GRASPING spiritual things at this point
Another time (the last time Jesus went to Jerusalem) Jesus told His disciples that He was going to go to that area (of Jerusalem) and Thomas is frustrated. Thomas knew how much the Jewish leaders hated Jesus, and He had heard Jesus repeated say they’d kill Him. And so he says "Let us also go, that we may die with him." John 11:16