Nevertheless, It Happens

Story of the Day for Saturday February 4, 2012

Nevertheless, It Happens

                    And Jesus said to them, “Why are you sorrowful and weeping? The child isn’t dead; she’s sleeping.” And they laughed at him. 

                                                                     Mark 5:39

University professor, Dr. Denis G. Osborne, was lecturing a high school class in Iringa, Tanzania on physics. When Dr. Osborne finished his lecture, he entertained questions. One of the students, Erasto Mpemba asked, “If you take two similar containers with equal volumes of water, one at 95 degrees Fahrenheit and the other at the boiling point, and then freeze them, why does the water that started at 212 degrees freeze first?”

Erasto’s classmates — along with the professor — exploded in laughter and scoffed at him for asking such a ridiculous question.

You don’t have to have a lot of smarts to understand why Mpemba’s question is so illogical. If the two containers of water are put in a freezer, by the time the boiling water cools down to 95 degrees, the water that began at 95 degrees will be cooler, say 40 degrees. No matter what temperature the boiling water cools down to, the cooler container of water will always be closer to freezing.  This isn’t speculative theory; it’s simple logic.


Have you ever shared your beliefs with others — only to have them respond in mocking laughter?  We can usually handle it when others disagree with us. When others calmly try to show us where they think we’re in error, we can hear them out.

But ridicule is much harder to take.  Jeering isn’t simply a sign of disagreement; it’s a gesture of disrespect.


While Jesus was going to a synagogue leader’s home to heal his little daughter, men reported that Jesus was too late — the girl had already died. Jesus wasn’t fazed by the news. He told the mourners at the house that the little girl wasn’t dead; she was just sleeping.

You can imagine the sting of the mourner’s bitter laughter.


In 1963, during a school cooking class, a thirteen-year-old student was told to freeze ice cream mixes. The student, Erasto Mpemba, noticed that the hot ice cream mixes froze faster than the cold ones. Six years later, through numerous experiments, Mpemba convinced a skeptical university professor, that, under certain conditions, hotter liquids do indeed freeze faster than cooler ones. Together Erasto Mpemba and Dr. Osborne published their findings and called it “The Mpemba effect.”


The Mpemba effect is, of course, logically impossible. Nevertheless, it happens.

Raising the dead is also rationally impossible. But I’ll bet it was much harder for the mourners to keep up their derision against Jesus while they watched a happy twelve-year-old girl bouncing around the village.

(copyright by and by Marty Kaarre)