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” words from the Word”, John 20:19-31 / April 7th, 2024 / Second Sunday of Easter / Hope Lutheran Church, Rev. Lucas Andre Albrecht


Text: John 20:19-31
Theme: Words from the Word


Watch the full sermon here


Intro – Are you familiar with the 7/38/55 rule for interpersonal Communication? If you Google it, you’ll find plenty of sources referring to it as the Mehrabian rule, which goes like this: interpersonal communication is 7%verbal, 38% tone of voice and 55% non-verbal. If this rule is true, it would mean that an overwhelming 93% of communication is non-verbal!

Really, a catchy rule. The only problem with it is: it does not seem to make much sense. How come 93% of what we communicate is non verbal?

Let’s test it. I will now stop speaking, and body language and tone of voice only, and you should get 93% of what I’m saying. First: (makes actions and gestures). By now, you should have gotten 55% of what I intend to tell you, right? Now, I’ll add tone of voice (adds). Now you should have received 93% of what I intended to say. Please, can you repeat the content I communicated back to me? Of course not. It is only when I say the words that you get the message: “This things are written that yo may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God”. Now you get the message.

The problem here is that the Mehrabian rule has been massively either misunderstood or misused. Mehrabian was a psycholgist and he made it clear that the 7/38/55 in communication was found when “he focused specifically on situations where people were talking about their feelings and their words and expressions didn’t line up.” The bottom line is Mehrabian’s rule “applies only to feelings, not factual content. And it only works when different signals are in conflict.” [1]

So, first of all, we know that the body talks, and that tone of voice has its role too. (Examples: husband and wife, sermon appreciation). But today we are reassured of the importance of the Words from the word.(After all, even when you interpret what body language and tone of voice are saying, you still use words). John is telling us today that words matter, and they matter all the time, not only when feelings are involved. He says that these things he just shared with early Christians, and Christians of all ages, were written so that we may believe. Words matter. And the words from the Word crucially matter, for withouth them, we cannot come to know Jesus, and have our faith and hope and trus in him. Adding to this, we remember that John opened his Gospel by saying that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Jesus is the Word of God for us. Independent from what or how we feel, these things were written so that the message of the Gospel remains the same for every generation.     The Word of God matters because the words were inspired by the Holy Spirit. This is what we teach. The Bible is inspired by God word by word. Therefore, these words matter these words are written so that we believe in Jesus and that we may have life through him.

It is important to add that it is not the written word, but also the spoken word that matters. The two of them go together. The Bible talks about, for example, the Voice of the Lord; that faith comes by preaching and hearing; that the Word is proclaimed,  and so on. Passages that point to this written word being used – spoken, pronounced, declared. John writtes words reporting spoken words, as the ones we heard in the Gospel for today:

“Peace be with you”

“Come and see”

“Blessed are those who did not see but believe”

The importance of both written and spoken word are present also in our worship life. We don’t place the written words beside bread and wine for Holy Supper, the Minister pronounces them. We don’t place written words on the screen so that we look at them. When we say the written words stemming from The Word, the words that accomplish the Holy Spirits’ Work.

Non-verbals play a role in communication, no doubt. We need actions and gestures; we need good tones of voice. But above all, we need words. Words that speak life, peace and promise to our hearts. Many of us may find ourselves in difficult situations right now, and we need to hear words that give us peace, encouragement, and support.  We need good words. Now, what are the words that we need to hear when we need to hear words? What type of news uplifts you?

  • A raise in salary
  • Decrease in violence
  • The end of a war
  • Free food
  • A New car
  • (…)

These may be good and may give us some refreshment and relief. Even happiness. But how long does the joy from these type of words of truly last? Not long enough, for sure. IN Jesus we find the words that give life, and that are the good words we need in our hearts.

I know, sometimes, God’s words may seem not to be of encouragement at all. Because God’s Word has words of Law. Strong words. Accusing words. Words denouncing our sin. But with one difference: we are used to the strong words of condemnation that our world has which are against the sinner. But Jesus, for the sinner, always has His arms wide open. Always. Not sometimes, not regularly, not almost always, not most of the time. Always. They are always secure, always life giving, always faith strenghtening. Because:

  • Jesus doesn’t run away from living with you.
  • Jesus doesn’t accuse you of what you didn’t do.
  • Jesus doesn’t use what you said against you just to put you down or humiliate you.
  • Jesus doesn’t interpret things in the worst way.
  • Jesus doesn’t have prejudices and biases.

Jesus is the Word of God for you, for your life of faith, for your life that never ends. His Words bring us small and great joys: Restoration of a relationship, the Joy of parenthood, ability to forgive and receive forgiveness,  Ability to listen and help someone; ability to be rich even without money. And many more. In Jesus we find the why for our life. This gives us strenght to live in basically any how to live that the circumstances may bring.

As we receive these words, we can also share them – the words from the Word to the World. Here our tone of voice, our body language, certainly help. When our body language and tone of voice aligned with the Word of God an adequate for the moment, they bring comfort, support and hope.


Conclusion: Words from the Word. They don’t depend on feelings, body language or tone of voice. They were written so that we may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, and that we may have life in Him. As we say and share them. it happens. For the Word of God is 100% effective, everytime. In the Rule of the Kindgom, communication never fails.





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