A Joy to the Senses

God is a great teacher. He knows His creation well and knows that we take in and process information through all 5 senses. Each sense has a different task and we connect with each differently. Seeing and hearing may be the strongest of our senses, but when talking about love, touch is the sense that comes to the fore. Hugs and kisses are distinctly touch oriented. The sense of smell is one that more readily draws out our memories. The scent of certain flowers or certain foods will recall moments from childhood that haven’t come to mind in years. Taste as well brings a certain joy all its own. It’s no secret that when people come together, it usually involves food in some form. Taste is tied to building community, for it is connected to one of the essential elements of life.

God understands His creatures better than they understand themselves. Our sinful minds and bodies need all the help they can get to better absorb the lessons He gives us. When Jesus confronts Thomas in the upper room after His resurrection, He chides him by saying, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). The implication is that the testimony of the other disciples should have been enough. Jesus’s own pronouncement that He would be given into the hands of sinful men, die, and on the third day rise, should have been enough. But Thomas, like all of us, is a sinner and predisposed to doubt God’s word and promise.

It is instructive to see how Jesus responds to Thomas’s doubts. Yes, Jesus chides him a bit, but He still shows Thomas the nail marks and invites him to touch them. God’s Word alone should be enough for us, but Jesus knows that it often is not.

It is in this regard that the sacraments are so foundational for the life of the church. God’s promises are given physical form. We don’t just hear them, we interact with them and experience them. Just as Jesus is the Word made flesh, so the sacraments are the Word given physical form, the grace of God poured into His church through water, bread, and wine. The manner in which that grace is given is intentional. You are not simply meant to hear the pastor tell you there is water in the bowl. You are meant to feel it washing over you. you are meant to smell pure, clean water pouring down your head. Jesus doesn’t just tell His disciples, “This is my body,” and “This is my blood,” as if that pronouncement alone was enough for them. Perhaps it should be, but nevertheless Jesus precedes those statements with, “Take and eat,” and “Take and drink.” They are meant to see it, touch it, taste it, and smell it. God’s word is there, but now it is amplified. It engages all of our senses. The Psalmist says, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!”

While there are many reasons we should make use of the sacraments, it is important to remember how well God knows His creation, and us specifically. He knows our needs and knows how readily we drift away. He gives us the sacraments so that we may know here and now I have God’s grace washing over me. Here and now I hold that grace in my hand. I don’t just hear about how Christ’s life is within me, it is physically there as I eat His body and drink His blood. Jesus tells Thomas, “Do not disbelieve, but believe!” It is a message we should take to heart as well as He provides the sacraments for our benefit, for our instruction, for our life.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started
%d bloggers like this: