Don't be an Unbeliever, but a Believer
The days following Jesus’ death might have been the darkest days for Jesus’ disciples. The man they had followed, loved, and trusted as the promised Messiah was dead. Though He had spoken about His death and resurrection, they didn’t understand.
After Jesus was buried, the Pharisees and chief priests remembered that Jesus had said, “After three days I will rise again.” (See John 2:19-21.) They worried that the disciples might steal Jesus’ body and claim He had risen from the dead. So Pilate ordered soldiers to seal the tomb and guard it.
On the third day, Mary Magdalene went to Jesus’ tomb. Imagine Mary’s surprise and confusion when she arrived to find it empty. She cried, thinking someone had taken Jesus’ body. Then Jesus—the living Jesus—appeared to Mary. He addressed her by name. Mary rushed to tell the other disciples, “I have seen the Lord!”
The news of Jesus must have spread quickly. Also spreading was a rumor that the disciples had taken Jesus’ body. The disciples were afraid; they hid in a locked room. None of them wanted to be arrested or imprisoned. They didn’t want to die like Jesus had died.
Peace to You
Suddenly, Jesus was with them. “Peace to you!” He said. Peace to you! Here was Jesus with the people who had abandoned Him. (See Matthew 26:56.) We might expect a reaction like, “Death to you, deserters!” But no: Peace to you. On the cross, Jesus essentially said, “Death to Me.” He could offer the disciples true peace—everlasting life and a right relationship with God.
On the cross, Jesus essentially said, “Death to Me.” He could offer the disciples true peace—everlasting life and a right relationship with God.
The disciples thought Jesus was a ghost, but He proved them wrong. Jesus showed His hands and side. He spoke again, “Peace to you!”
Thomas was absent from the gathering. When he heard his friends’ accounts, he didn’t believe them. Thomas said, “If I don’t see the mark of the nails in His hands, put my finger into the mark of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will never believe!” (John 20:25).
Eight days later, as the disciples were gathered behind locked doors, Jesus appeared again. “Peace to you!” Jesus said. Jesus showed His hands and His side to Thomas, and Thomas believed. “My Lord and my God!” he said.
Jesus said, “Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Those who believe without seeing are blessed” (John 20:29).
The Bible says that during the 40 days after His death, Jesus presented Himself alive to His followers and gave them convincing proofs. He spoke about the kingdom of God. Then the disciples watched as Jesus ascended into heaven. (See Acts 1:3,9-10.)
We Walk by Faith
Jesus is alive today. We have not seen Him, but we believe by faith. Jesus Himself said that we are not at a disadvantage; in fact, we are blessed! Jesus’ story was written for us in the Bible to read and believe. Our belief isn’t based on nothing; Jesus gave proof that He is alive. The Holy Spirit helps us know the truth about Jesus. (John 15:26).
As you use The Gospel Project for Kids to teach kids the story of Jesus’ appearing to many people, talk about faith. “Now faith is the reality of what is hope for, the proof of what is not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Prompt kids to discuss whether it is easy or difficult to have faith. Consider reviewing Hebrews 11 and talking about people who had great faith. Then encourage kids to respond to Jesus’ call: “Don’t be an unbeliever, but a believer” (John 20:27).