Children’s Ministry Lesson: Jesus Appears to His Disciples and Doubting Thomas (John 20:19-31)

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Use this children’s Sunday School lesson to teach students about faith and how Jesus appeared to the doubting disciple in John 20:19-31.

Needed: Bibles, a list of statements for a true/false game

Lesson Introduction Game: The Unbelievable

Divide students into two teams. You’ll read a list of statements, and they have to vote as a team whether they believe each of your statements or not. The team with the most correct answers wins.

Here are some statements all about animals. For more general questions, try these.

1. Yogurt is made with bacteria. (True. Bacteria ferment the milk.)

2. Your ears help keep you balanced. (True. The fluid in your ears gives you a sense of balance.)

3. Zebras are the fastest land animal in the world. (False. Cheetahs are the fastest.)

4. A snake’s skin feels slimy. (False. It feels dry.)

5. Adult people have 502 bones in their body. (False. Most people only have 206 bones.)

6. DNA stands for ‘Deoxyribonucleic acid.’ (True.)

7. Crocodiles do not sweat, so they breathe through their mouth to cool down. (True.)

8. The Grand Canyon is the deepest place on earth. (False. The Mariana Trench is the deepest place we know of.)

9. Humans have been to every planet in our solar system. (False. We’ve only been to the moon so far.)

10. Jesus was dead for three days but came back to life. (True. God did a miracle to bring Jesus back to life.)

Explain that today’s story is about one of the disciples who didn’t believe that Jesus came back from the dead.

Bible Lesson: Doubting Thomas

Explain to students that this happened the same day Jesus rose from the dead on Easter morning.

(Read John 20:19.)

“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!’”

The disciples were in the house together with the door locked. How did Jesus come in? He didn’t knock.

Jesus can come to be with us wherever we are. He doesn’t need to go through doors or windows anymore.

(Read John 20:20.)

“After He said this, He showed them His hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.”

Why would Jesus show them His hands and side?

He was showing them the nail holes in His hands and the hole in His side where the soldier stabbed Him with a spear, so that they would know it was really Him.

(Read John 20:21.)

“Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you.’”

Jesus said, “As the Father sent Me, so I send you.” What did God the Father send Jesus to do? (God sent Jesus to tell other people about God and to die on the cross so that we could be saved.)

What is Jesus sending us to do? (To tell other people about God and Jesus so that they can be saved too.)

(Read John 20:22.)

“And with that He breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’”

What happened when Jesus breathed on the disciples? (The Holy Spirit came to live inside them.)

What is the Holy Spirit?

The Holy Spirit is the part of God and Jesus that lives in our hearts and is always with us.

(Read John 20:23-28.)

“’If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.’

“Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 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.’

“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!’ 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.’

“Thomas said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’”

Why did Thomas call Jesus “Lord and God”? Isn’t there only one God?

Jesus is part of God. There are three parts of the one God; God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. God has three parts, just like we have three parts. Our three parts are our body, our heart (which is our emotions and mind), and our soul or spirit.

(Read John 20:29.)

“Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen Me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’”

Jesus said that there would be people who never saw Him but who will believe He rose from the dead and that those people will be blessed, or rewarded, by God because they believe in Jesus. Who are those people that Jesus is talking about? (Us!)

We’ve never seen Jesus, but we still believe in Him, and God will reward us for that by letting us go to Heaven when we die.

Lesson Review Game: Trust Fall 

Have students pair up. One student stands behind the other. The student in front closes their eyes and falls back, trusting the one behind them to catch them. Then the partners switch roles.

Let each pair try the activity a couple of times, getting more and more comfortable. Then, ask, Was it difficult to have faith that your partner would catch you?

Could you see them behind you when you closed your eyes and let yourself fall back?

That’s how much faith God wants us to have in Him. Even though we’ve never seen Jesus, we need to have faith in Him.

Children’s Ministry Game: Disciple Tag 

Choose one student to be It. When they tag someone, that person links hands with them and joins their team. They continue adding people to their team, linking hands with each one until all but one student is part of their chain. That remaining student becomes It for the next round.

Play two or three rounds and then, explain that when we tell people about Jesus, we want them to believe in Jesus too. If they do, they become a Christian and join our team. Then, they help us tell more people about Jesus.

Closing Prayer

Jesus, we thank You for coming to tell us about God and for dying on the cross to take the punishment for our sin. Now, we pray that You’ll help us to have faith in You so that we live forever with You. Amen.

You can also find this lesson for Kindle or in print in my book, He Came, He Saw, He Conquered.

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