“Jesus Helps Thomas with Doubts”
Dig In to the Bible
- Read: John 20:24-29
- In This Passage: The disciples tell Thomas they saw Jesus—alive—after he’d died! Thomas doesn’t believe them. He says he needs to see and feel Jesus’ wounds to confirm that Jesus is real. Jesus appears, and Thomas believes. Even though we can’t see Jesus, we can trust that Jesus is real.
- Bible Point: Jesus is real.
- Summary Verse: “But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).
- You’ll Be Teaching: Jesus is real. Younger kids probably don’t struggle with doubts about Jesus, but older kids may be beginning to. Either way, it can be hard for kids to think of Jesus as a friend when they can’t see him. Help kids learn that because Jesus is real, we can be his friend. Jesus is glad when we believe in him even though we can’t see him.
- Think About: What would you say to a “doubting Thomas” who didn’t believe Jesus is real?
Dig In to Prayer
- Pray that kids would feel Jesus’ presence in a very real way.
Introduce the Lesson
Say: Today we’re going to learn that Jesus is real. Sometimes we make things look real, but they’re not.
- Tell kids a prank you’ve played on someone or heard about.
Open a Bible to John 20, and say: In our Bible story, Thomas might’ve thought the disciples were playing a trick on him. They told him Jesus is real and that he’d come back to life! Let’s look in the Bible to see what evidence Thomas needed to see that they really weren’t pulling a prank. The Bible is God’s special book. God uses the Bible to talk to us and show us that he’s real. He’s always here, and he wants to talk to you now. Let’s listen and talk to him.
Pray, thanking Jesus that he’s real.
Watch This Video:
- “Real or Trick?” teaching video (watch or download here)
Discuss and Watch “Real or Trick?”
Say: Today we’re learning that Jesus is real. When Thomas heard that the other disciples had seen Jesus, he thought it might be a trick. But it wasn’t!
Today it can be easy to be tricked by videos. Let’s see how easily you can tell whether something is real or a video trick. You’ll use a thumbs-up or thumbs-down to vote.
Watch “Real or Trick?”
Ask: • How did you decide whether to vote that it was real or fake?
• Which experiments tricked you? Why?
• What proof do you think Thomas would need to believe the real experiments in our video?
Say: Sometimes people call Thomas “doubting Thomas” because he doubted that Jesus was really alive again. But when he saw the evidence for himself, he believed! We might be smart to doubt video tricks, but we never have to doubt Jesus. We can believe that Jesus is real.
Core Bible At Home
- markers or crayons (leader only)
- paper (leader only)
- cup of water (leader only)
Ask for Proof
Say: We’re learning that Jesus is real. In our Bible story, we’ll learn about a man who wanted to see and touch Jesus as proof that Jesus was really alive.
Let’s think about what proof we’d need to believe some hard-to-believe things.
Ask: • If I told you that the moon is made of cheese, what would it take for you to believe me? Kids might say going to the moon and tasting it, hearing it from a scientist, hearing it from someone they know and trust, seeing photos, and so on.
Ask: • What if I showed you a piece of cheese and told you this cheese is from the moon? Is that enough evidence?
• What if I told you that pigs can fly? What proof would you need?
Say: Lucky for you, I have a genuine photograph of a flying pig! Quickly draw a picture of a flying pig. The worse the picture looks, the better—so don’t be afraid to hurry!
Ask: • How about if I told you that you can breathe under water without any equipment?
Say: Okay, this one really is possible. Check it out! Hold a cup of water over your head, and then take a few deep breaths. Say: See? I’m under water!
Say: None of these things are really true, and you probably already knew that. That’s why you’d want a lot of proof. In the Bible, one of Jesus’ friends, named Thomas, knew for a fact that Jesus had died. So it seemed just as impossible as pigs flying that Jesus could be alive. Thomas wanted proof that Jesus is real and that he wasn’t dead anymore.
Say: Let’s see what happened. You’ll all be Thomas, and I’ll be the people who saw Jesus alive. As I share what I saw, just keep doubting me!
Play the following roles, using a different voice for each one and pausing after each for “Thomas” to express doubt.
- I’m Mary! I was crying outside of Jesus’ empty tomb because I thought he was lost. Then Jesus himself talked to me!
- I’m a disciple. We were scared, so we were hiding in a locked room. All of a sudden, Jesus was there!
- I’m a disciple. Jesus talked to us and said, “Peace be with you.”
- I’m a disciple. We know it was him because we saw the wounds in his hands and side.
- I’m a disciple. Jesus breathed on us and told us to receive the Holy Spirit.
Ask: • Why do you think Thomas didn’t believe what the disciples and Mary said?
Say: Whether or not you think you’d believe Jesus is real and alive based on what Mary and the disciples said, Thomas didn’t. He wanted physical evidence.
Read John 20:25.
Say: Thomas wanted evidence that Jesus is real and alive, and he got it! Let’s experience what he did.
Read John 20:26.
Say: Let’s see how secure our walls and door are. Feel around and make sure there are no secret doors in the walls.
Have families press on the walls, lock the doors, and close any windows.
Say: There’s no way into your house right now without a key! That was the situation when Jesus showed up!
Ask: • How would seeing Jesus suddenly appear in a locked room help you believe he is real?
Say: When Jesus appeared to Thomas and the other disciples, he said “Peace be with you.” Close your eyes and imagine Jesus saying those words to you.
Ask: • How would hearing Jesus talk to you help you believe he is real?
Say: Let’s see what happened next.
Read John 20:27.
Say: Jesus showed Thomas the scars in his hands from where he’d been crucified. Find a wound or scar you have, and tell someone about how you got it. Allow time for kids to share.
Ask: • How would seeing Jesus’ scars help you believe he is real?
Say: Jesus also invited Thomas to touch the wound in his side. That was where the soldiers put a sword into his side.
Ask: • How would touching Jesus’ wound help you believe him more?
• Why is it so hard to believe in Jesus when we can’t see or touch him?
Say: Thomas got to use his senses to experience that Jesus is real. Let’s see how he reacted.
Read John 20:28.
Say: At the end of our Bible story, Jesus said something to Thomas that’s really more about us. Read John 20:29.
Ask: • Why do you think it’s important to Jesus that we believe without seeing him?
• How can you experience Jesus today—without seeing or touching him? Guide your family to talk about how we can hear Jesus through Scripture and by listening in prayer, and how we can even see evidence of his love and power through people and nature. Say: Jesus is real, but unlike Thomas, we don’t get the chance to see and touch his wounds. No matter what doubts or questions we may have, we can trust that Jesus is real, even though we can’t see him!
Play This Game:
- uninflated balloons (1 per child)
- black permanent markers (a few to share)
- masking tape
- upbeat music (optional)
- music player (optional)
- Tape a goal line on the floor at one end of your room.
- Younger kids may not be able to inflate balloons. If that’s the case, let those kids simply toss their uninflated balloons. They won’t be able to throw them very far! Just make sure older kids play the normal way so the game still makes the point.
Say: We heard about Thomas today, one of Jesus’ friends and disciples. Thomas had a hard time believing Jesus had come back to life and wanted to see Jesus with his own two eyes.
We can be like Thomas. Sometimes it’s hard to believe in what we can’t see, but there are a lot of things in our world that we can’t truly see but we know are real. Our next game will show you a great example!
- Give each child a balloon.
- Distribute the markers, and have kids share them to write their names on their balloons. Kids can partner up to help stretch out each other’s balloons for writing.
- Have kids blow up their balloons and hold them closed between their fingers. Wait for everyone to get the balloons inflated.
- Point out the goal line you taped to the floor, and have everyone stand along the wall across from the line. Have kids spread out as much as they can.
- The goal is for everyone to get the balloons across the goal line by letting go of the balloons and letting them fly as they deflate.
- Once each balloon lands, its owner can run to where it fell, check to make sure it’s his or her balloon, and then blow it up again to let it fly closer to the goal line.
- Play until all the kids get their balloons across the goal line.
- Kids whose balloons cross first can cheer on everyone else.
- If you’d like, play upbeat music while kids play.
Talk About It
Say: We couldn’t see the air coming out of each balloon, but we knew it was there because it moved each balloon—and we could hear it, too. Even though we can’t see air, we can see or hear or feel its effects, and we know for sure it’s real.
Ask: • What are other things we know are real even if we can’t actually see them?
• What are ways we can see Jesus’ effects around us, even though we can’t see him? Share an example of your own first, such as Jesus helping you be strong through a very difficult time.
Say: It would be awesome to see Jesus just like we can see each other here right now, but Jesus told Thomas and us, “Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.” It’s called faith when we believe in what we can’t see, and we can have faith that Jesus is real.
Try This Optical Illusion:
Paper Towel Tube
Use this video to teach your family how to make this cool optical illusion!
Thomas doubted that Jesus was really who he said he was until Jesus proved him wrong by showing him the holes in his hands.
• How can you experience Jesus today—without seeing or touching him?
Say: Jesus is real, but unlike Thomas, we don’t get the chance to see and touch his wounds. No matter what doubts or questions we may have, we can trust that Jesus is real, even though we can’t see him!
Wrap It Up:
Learn Sign Language
- Teach kids how to say “Jesus” in sign language. To do it, touch the tip of your middle finger to the center of the other hand’s palm. Then switch hands and do the same.
- Tell kids how sign language for “Jesus” reminds us of Thomas asking to touch Jesus’ wounds for proof that he was real. Explain that touching your fingers to your palms represents the nails that made the wounds in Jesus’ hands.
- Have kids sign “Jesus” repeatedly, silently telling Jesus a reason they believe he’s real each time they touch a finger to the opposite palm.
Pray: Jesus, we believe! We know you’re real, even though we can’t see and touch you. Thank you that your presence is real in our lives all the time. In your name, amen.