God's Story: Easter
" If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt ..." (NIV)
Open up to John 20:19-31. Let's take some time to look at the Easter events and what took place after the tomb was found empty. Explain that there were still many in town (Jews, soldiers, etc.) who were trying to arrest the followers of Jesus. Imagine how the disciples may have felt…nervous, terrified, still sad and uncertain of the future. They were huddled in hiding when suddenly a change swept into the room:
19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. -John 20:19-20
Look at that glorious contrast: from fear to faith, from locked doors to the Messiah’s unlimited power. The disciples are plunged into joy. And Jesus doesn’t stop there…
Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” -John 20:21-23
What does it mean to receive the Holy Spirit? It means we are given power through God’s being; and because of that, we are entrusted with the special task of telling others about what Jesus did.
Continue the Bible story by explaining that not all of the disciples encountered Jesus when He first appeared to them. One of them was not present for some reason…
Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” -John 20:24-25
We don’t know why Thomas missed the meeting, but his absence led to historical infamy. We now associate Thomas with doubt, as he stubbornly refuses to believe what the disciples share in spite of their evident joy. However, Christ comes bounding in again:
A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” -John 20:26-29
Jesus comes back to make His presence and life absolutely and undeniably evident. He confronts the skeptical disciple face to face and allows his doubts to be laid to rest. The most striking detail in this encounter, though, at least for our sake as modern believers, is in verse 29. Jesus says “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Who might that be? Us! We have not physically seen Jesus, but He blesses all those who believe out of faith that His story is true.
How did Jesus treat Thomas when he did not believe the disciples testimony right away?
He was not angry with Thomas' doubt and he did not leave him to wonder forever. He revealed the truth to him personally, but then when he did, he commanded him to stop doubting and believe.
What doubts might you have about Jesus?
Pray together as a family about any doubts (or if you have none, pray for others that do). Like Thomas, God loves us, and wants to meet us in our doubt. As we pray to know Him more, to know the full truth, He will lead us to just the right verses in Scripture or to talk to people He has given the answers to our questions or something else....but He will come to all those that seek Him....just as He did for Thomas! And when God shows up, just like today's memory verse reminds us, it is important that we trust it is Him and believe wholeheartedly.
May the Lord open your eyes DAILY to see Him all around you, may you hear His loving voice speak into your heart, and as you choose to believe in Jesus each and every day, may your thoughts, words, and actions testify to your growing faith. In Jesus' Name. Amen