Small Group Tools
Contemporary Comments 2016
Texts: 2 Kings 13:23; Exodus 2:23–25; Luke 7:11–16; 1 John 3:17; John 11:35; Romans 12:15; 2 Corinthians 1:3, 4
You’ve probably seen the experiment of the opera singer and the crystal glass. First, she rubs her finger around the rim and listens to it ring. Then she fills her lungs with air and begins to hold a single note, quietly at first, but slowly increasing in volume. As her voice gets louder the glass begins to respond until finally, as she bellows out that one note with full gusto, the glass shatters. It’s called resonance or sympathetic vibration.
Sympathetic resonance can happen in many different settings. Alexander Graham Bell often entertained guests with a parlor trick by having people place their finger on a single string in a piano. Then he would loudly hold a single note and the guest would feel the piano string vibrate. When an organ plays loudly in a church, the sounds will sometimes rattle windowpanes or wooden panels because of sympathetic vibrations.
Sound waves from one vibrating object can cause another object to respond in like. This is most easily done with two tuning forks with the same frequency. Vibrating air from one fork will cause the other fork to vibrate. Resonance occurs when the natural vibration of two objects are the same.1
Our Sabbath school lesson this week explores a principle in Jesus’ ministry toward others. Using Ellen White’s classic description of Christ’s method of coming close to people, she explains that the Savior “showed sympathy” (Ministry of Healing, p. 143). The word sympathy is made up of two Greek words. The first is syn which means to “come along” or “together,” and the second is pathos, which speaks of our emotions and feelings. Sympathy means that a person has a connection with another, such that whatever affects one will affect the other.
But Christ’s sympathy goes beyond knowing how another is feeling. Jesus’ sympathy was prompted by one who “desired the good” of others. The Savior didn’t just intellectually understand the inner experiences of others; Jesus cared. The Bible repeatedly records how Christ was moved with compassion for others (Matthew 9:36; 14:14; 15:32, etc.).
Christians who seek to follow Christ’s method for reaching people will not only have sympathetic vibrations for the pain of others, but will want to alleviate the suffering of wounded people. True followers of Jesus don’t simply observe the shattered lives of people, but are quick to kneel down and help put the pieces back together.
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