What does it take to SEE Jesus? (John 20:19-31)

A previous post–updated!

Each year on the second Sunday of Easter we encounter the story of Thomas. This year the story seems especially important. Will we let fear and doubt be our primary narratives, or will we learn to tell a different story?

WATCH and WONDER

John 20:19-31
as told by Casey FitzGerald

BREAK IT down

A great way to start remembering the story as an adult and to help children get the basics is to break it down to the main points. Yes, the details are very important…but you will be able to tell the story with much more confidence (and remember it better) if you know the key parts. This is akin to naming “episodes,” but with full descriptive sentences.

For the younger set: You may want to learn the story summaries in parts. To begin, just learn the initial appearance. If I were breaking it up into a child-friendly summary, it might look something like this:

  • Jesus had been killed
  • The disciples locked themselves in a house because they were afraid.
  • Jesus appeared in the locked room!
  • He said, “Peace be with you.”
  • The disciples rejoiced because Jesus was ALIVE!

Before learning the “abridged” version, be sure to read/tell the whole section/story aloud so that they can hear it from you first. HERE is a link to the story from GoTell Communications. After reading/telling the whole story, learn the simple version. See if they can repeat the story. See if they can remember what was left out in the simple version (i.e., showing his hands and side).

seeing JESUS

This is one of my all-time favorite stories. It was the first that I recorded for my certification through the Academy for Biblical Storytelling. I thought about showing you that recording and letting you compare, but I’m not quite ready for that yet. Let’s just say I moved around…A LOT. I most recently told it at the 2015 NEXT Church national gathering.

There are so many reasons to love this story. Though it’s often called the “doubting Thomas” story, it is clear that the other disciples also doubted. The other disciples also had to SEE to believe. (They don’t actually recognize Jesus until he shows them his wounds: he showed them his hands and his sides–THEN the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.)

I love the ending commentary of the story:

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples,
which are not written in this book.
But these are written so that you may come to believe
that Jesus is the Messiah,
the Son of God,
and that through believing you may have life in his name.

Though we don’t see Jesus in the way that the disciples did in that locked house…it just might be that we see him when we hear and tell the stories. These stories of Jesus are the means through which we have LIFE.

So GO and TELL!

in a room filled with fear

A story from last year (2014):

A few months ago, I got a call in my office from the administrative assistant–“Don’t leave, we are on lock-down.” In the late morning, a beloved woman in the church neighborhood received a knock on her door and was gunned down by a stranger. So we were on lock-down. It happened that the lock-down was enforced just minutes before the release of our weekday preschool. Parents waited in locked cars in our parking lot. Kids sheltered in dark bathrooms. Our teachers made instant transformations into heroes. And we waited…locked in the church. Police with dogs and guns came, searching the building as their colleagues searched the neighborhood. Rumors of ties to other unsolved local murders swept twitter-feeds and the news outlets. It was scary at the time, but perhaps more scary in the days following…especially for our parents.

Lying in bed that night, I was trying to imagine what story I would tell myself and the members of my church (many of whom reside in this neighborhood, many of whom knew and loved the victim). I thought about the parents in the parking lot…how afraid they must have been…and how, because the murderer had not (and has not) been caught, I could not offer them easy assurances. The threat still seemed to loom. That’s when I remembered this story from John. The disciples had real reasons to be afraid. Their leader had been crucified. They were under threat of similar persecution. They were mourning and fearful. So they locked themselves in a house and tried to regroup. In the midst of this fear and sorrow, Jesus entered with the gift of peace…and everything changed. Actually, nothing on the outside changed. They still had every reason to fear the authorities. Yet, in that moment when they saw the risen Lord, they were freed from the bonds of fear. Jesus’ appearance re-framed their story. The details are mostly the same, but the way that they saw the world was forever changed. “Peace be with you,” Jesus said…and they rejoiced.

I told myself the story a few times that week. In simple ways I told it to a number of members. Seeing the risen Lord has the power to re-frame all of our stories.

May the peace of Jesus Christ enter into every fear-filled room in which you find yourself.

 

One thought on “What does it take to SEE Jesus? (John 20:19-31)

  1. Pingback: Episode 12: In Community | Story Divine

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