More Than Words
One of the disciples, Thomas, "The Twin," was not there at the time with the others. When they kept telling him, "We have seen the Lord," he replied, "I won't believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands - and put my fingers into them - and place my hand into his side.
Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them and greeting them.
Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger into my hands. Put your hand into my side. Don't be faithless any longer. Believe!"
"My Lord and my God!" Thomas said.
Then Jesus told him, "You believe because you have seen me. But blessed are those who haven't seen me and believe anyway." John 20: 24-29 (TLB)
And now this word to all of you: You should be like one big happy family, full of sympathy toward each other, loving one another with tender hearts and humble minds. 1 Peter 3:8 (TLB)
Mary Hunt Webb is from New Mexico. As their instructor talked on and on, Mary saw a classmate squirm in his seat. During a break, he explained, "Sitting and listening is so difficult for me. I prefer doing, touching, seeing, smelling, and even tasting. I'm an experiential learner."
While reading today's scripture passage, Mary recalled that conversation and thought Thomas must have been an experiential learner. Although traditionally he has been called "Doubting Thomas," Mary thinks maybe Thomas processed information best by receiving it through a combination of senses. Perhaps the report from the other disciples didn't involve enough of his senses for him to process that information easily. Only by hearing, seeing, and touching could Thomas accept Jesus' resurrection.
That same hesitance to accept the gospel sometimes hinders us today. We may regard sermons as boring because words alone exclude the other senses. For some, Communion fills that void through touch and taste. Others enjoy children's sermons that often involve multiple senses.
When we are understanding of those who receive the gospel in different ways, we fulfill the charge in today's quoted scripture. We may need their understanding of our differences too.
Prayer: Precious Lord, help us to be understanding of the unique ways each person receives your good news, in Jesus' name. Amen.