Doubting Thomas: What do I do when I have questions about God?
Prepared by: Teresa Klassen
1. OPENER: Would you believe me if I said… (5 minutes)
Materials needed (you can print these off the internet):
– Picture of World’s Largest Snake
– Picture of Camal Spider
– Picture of World’s longest fingernails
– Picture of World’s tallest man
- Would you believe me or would you need to see it if I said there is a snake that is over 20 feet long and as wide as you? (show picture of the World’s largest snake)
- Would you believe me or would you need to see it if I said there was a spider that is over a foot long? (show picture of a camel spider)
- Would you believe me or would you need to see it if I said there is a lady with fingernails over two feet long? (show picture of World’s longest fingernails)
- Would you believe me or would you need to see it if I said there is a man who is over 8 feet tall? (show picture of world’s tallest man)
- Would you believe me or would you need to see it if I said there is a woman who can pop her eyes almost out of her head? (show the YouTube video of the woman who can do this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_IyXz5Q5kY)
It is hard to believe something when it seems really, really amazing doesn’t it? When somebody tells us about something that is really big or really fast or really incredible we will often say, “I need to see it to believe it!” because we doubt whether it is true or not.
Doubting is when you say, “I don’t know….I don’t know if that is true….I will believe it when I see it.”
Today we are going to talk about a man in the Bible who doubted. He heard that Jesus had died and had come alive again and he said, “I don’t know…I don’t know if that is true….I will believe it when I see Jesus in person.” His name is Thomas, and this is his story:
2. READ THE BIBLE STORY about Thomas (5 minutes)
I am only going to read you half of the story for now:
John 20:19-25 (just read up to/including verse 25 at this point)
3. ACT IT OUT: Part 1… (5 minutes)
Pick two children to act out the story – tell them that there will be 2 parts
Girl: Thomas, Thomas you aren’t going to believe this!
Thomas: You are probably right, I won’t believe it.
Girl: Thomas, you know how Jesus died?
Thomas: Yes, I could never forget that.
Girl: You know how he was buried in a tomb?
Thomas: Yes, I could never forget that either.
Girl: Well, Jesus is no longer dead.
Thomas: What are you talking about?
Girl: Jesus is no longer dead…he is alive
Thomas: No he’s not
Girl: Yes, he is
Thomas: No he’s not
Girl: Yes he is
Girl: Thomas! Don’t do that. Jesus is alive, I am telling you the truth.
Thomas: I saw him die on the cross
Girl: I know
Thomas: I saw him buried
Girl: I know that too
Thomas: So, end of story
Girl: No, not the end. Jesus is alive. Everyone is talking about it.
Thomas: Talking. Talking. That doesn’t mean anything. That doesn’t mean Jesus is really alive
Girl: Well, I hear that he is alive.
Thomas: Hm. Well, I will believe it when I see it.
Girl: What do you mean?
Thomas: I would believe it if Jesus was standing right here, talking to me. I would believe it if he showed me the actual wounds in his hands and the hole in his side from where the sword pierced him. But what you are telling me right now leaves me with serious questions. I am not just going to believe something if I have a ton of questions.
(Transition) Teacher says: Thomas had questions didn’t he? How could Jesus be alive? He must have thought, “I saw Jesus die, how could he be alive again?” I am sure Thomas was angry that Jesus was killed. I am sure he was very sad because he missed Jesus. He probably was confused that all of this happened at all. So, he had some real doubts when he heard Jesus was alive. He had to see for himself. He had to have his questions answered before he would believe or trust what people were saying…
4. ACTIVITY: I have questions: (5 minutes)
– Cover a table with paper and have crayons/felts on the table…
– Have a smaller group/relational time and begin this way,
Teacher says: Sometimes we have questions too. I had questions and I still have questions. Sometimes they get answered, and sometimes not – but even when they are not, I trust in Jesus because I know I can trust him. I am wondering if you have things you don’t understand about God…(or another way to put this is “If you could ask God a question, what would you ask him?”)
We are going to write those questions down, and maybe draw a picture that goes with that question and put your name beside those questions. * make sure they put their name beside it so if we need to pass it on to a parent or talk about it further we can do that and not just leave the child hanging.
** Teacher/Helper, just validate these questions and say things like “That’s a great question” and add on an appropriate response, like:
– If you know the answer you can say, “The Bible says…” and answer the question
– If you think a parent would be better to help answer it say, “I bet your mom or dad would love to help you find the answer to that question…”
– If you think that the question would be a good one to “study” for a Sunday School lesson then say, “I think that would be a great question to learn a lesson about in Sunday School” and then discuss it after the service with the person who plans lesson as a potential topic
– If you think it is “unanswerable” then say something like “That is such a good question and I think it is one of those things we just won’t know until we can ask Jesus in person. I may not understand it, but I know I can trust Jesus with that question and it will make sense to us one day.”
5. SKIT: What can we do with our questions? (5 to 8 minutes)
Pick people from the class to act this out
Miss Seek ‘N Find
Teacher says: Is it OK that Thomas doubted? Well, he had questions about Jesus and Jesus is always OK with us asking questions. Jesus says that we should be able to believe him without seeing everything for ourselves; but at the same time, he is very patient with us. We should never be afraid to ask Jesus questions. But there is a good way to ask questions and then there is a way that is not as good. So let’s look at that. I am going to need 3 people to help out with this:
Mr. Doubter And Miss Seek ‘N Find
(Do this live with two people acting, or use puppets, or if the kids can read well enough, have them act it out. I have used “he” and “she” but you can easily use two males or two females however you choose to tell it)
Narrator: Meet Doubter. He never believes anything unless you can explain EVERYTHING and sometimes even then he still doubts. He thinks he is very smart and he looooooooves to argue. The thing he says the most is:
Doubter: I will believe it when I see it!
Narrator: That’s what he always says! Now meet MissSeek ‘N Finder. She is very curious and has lots of questions about things, but she knows that she doesn’t know everything and has lots to learn. She loves to learn, so she tries to ask good questions and find good answers to things. Let’s see how this works:
Did you know that God answers our prayers?
Doubter: Really? I don’t know if that is true; I have a lot of questions about how prayer works, if it works at all and I really doubt it does. If I pray, God better answer me RIGHT NOW or it’s just not true: “God, if you answer prayers then you will give me a puppy right now!” (he taps his foot waiting). See. I knew it. God doesn’t answer prayers. I doubted it and I was right.
Narrator: Hmmmmm. It’s true that sometimes we pray about things and nothing seems to happen. I wonder why?
Seek ‘N Find: Yes, I have questions about that too. So I was asking God about that; like if I pray for something, why don’t I always get what I want? Is God listening? I thought, what can I do to get my questions answered?
Do you kids know? (wait for the kids to contribute some ideas)
Maybe I should read my Bible (opens her Bible) and see if there are any answers there for me.
Yes, there are good answers in the Bible.
- The Bible says God always hears me
- The Bible says that sometimes God doesn’t give me what I want because it isn’t best for me
- The Bible tells me that God is listening, but I need to be patient and wait for an answer.
- The Bible shows me that God does answer our prayers but sometimes in a way we weren’t expecting.
- The Bible teaches me that God is bigger than me and sees things better than me and I learned that trusting him is better than not trusting him.
Doubter: (doubtfully) What else did you learn?
Seek ‘N Find: Well, I learned that God says He hears every word we say and that all of our questions and all the things we ask are very important to him.
Narrator: Reading your Bible is a great way to find answers when you have doubts.
Doubter: I doubt it. I mean is that all I have; the Bible? Isn’t there another way to prove that things are true?
Seek ‘N Find: Sometimes when I have questions I go to somebody who is older than me and ask them.
Doubter: You mean like your PARENTS? Well, your parents don’t know everything. I doubt that they know ALL the answers.
Seek ‘N Find: If they don’t know the answer, then they can usually find the answer and get back to me.
Doubter: But I doubt that they can answer every question. I really doubt that. So if you can’t answer a question I have about God and prayer then I am just not going to believe it; so there!
Seek ‘N Find: Jesus said that sometimes we won’t be able to know everything. There are things about God that are mysteries, because He is God and we are not. So I like to ask a lot of questions but there are questions I just have to leave for Jesus to answer someday.
Teacher: So, what I am hearing from Miss Seek ‘N Find is that we will be able to have some of our questions answered completely, and some of our questions answered a little bit…and some of our questions we might not be able to have an answer for right now, and that is where we just need to trust God.
Doubter: Trust, what is that?
6. What is trust? Believing without seeing (5 minutes)
- Enough cookies for the class
- Picture of dad throwing child in the air (or similar idea)
Teacher: That is a good question. What the word trust means? (ask the kids)
In our story about Thomas, Thomas loved Jesus, but he was struggling with believing without seeing. Trust is believing without knowing absolutely everything.
What is something you have had to trust someone about? (if kids can’t think of anything, then ask questions like, “what have you had to trust your parents about? How about learning to swim? Ever jumped off the side of a pool into your parent’s arms?)
It is like this picture – you might even have pictures like this of you when you were little (show a picture of a dad throwing his daughter up in the air). This dad loves his child. The child knows that she is loved by her dad. Her dad is a good dad and she trusts him to take care of her. So when the dad says, “Come here, I want to do something fun with you,” she doesn’t run away fearfully because she trusts her dad. When he throws her up in the air, she is up there, with no one holding onto her, but she trusts that her good dad is going to catch her. He is not going to let her fall. She trusts him to throw her up, and then to catch her.
Is there someone here who can help us understand about trust? I need a volunteer who doesn’t mind wearing a blindfold.
Trusting: Believing without Seeing
“I have something nice for you, do you want me to tell you what it is?”
Let the child answer: yes
“Well, it is something nice, but I am not going to tell you what it is. Would you like to see what it is?”
Let the child answer: yes
“Well, it is something nice, but I am not going to show you what it is. Do you want me to take you to it?”
Let the child answer: yes
“OK. I will take you to it, but you are going to need to wear this blindfold. You know that I have told you that I will give you something nice, but you haven’t seen it have you? Will you trust me to take you to it and give it to you?”
If the child answers yes, then put the blindfold on the child and begin to lead them around the classroom. As you go, say “This is what it is like when we put our trust in Jesus. Sometimes we can see where we are going, and sometimes we can’t. Jesus says that we will be happiest when we just trust him, even when we can’t see. Jesus is a good Father to us. He wants to give us as His children good things. He promises he will never leave us. He promises he will always guide us. We don’t need to doubt him, we need to trust in him.”
Take the child to the “treat” you have for them (some cookies, enough to share with the class)
Here, this is for you; could you give one to each of the other kids?
When the cookies are handed out, say: The point is, you can trust in Jesus. He is a good friend. He is a good leader. He will guide you in the best way to live. You do not need to doubt him or see everything or understand absolutely everything. You can trust him.
7. ACT IT OUT: Part 2… (5 minutes)
Have the same two children who acted out the story of Thomas earlier come up, and pick another student to be Jesus and another to be the narrator and a few others to just be disciples
Tell them to sit together, as if they are in a living room (Jesus should be off to the side)
Teacher: Well, we heard the first half of the story of Thomas earlier, now we will hear the second half
Narrator: About a week later, Thomas and a bunch of the disciples were together in a room, hanging out together when suddenly Jesus just appeared.
Jesus shows up, the disciples are all surprised
Jesus: Relax, peace…
Narrator: Then he looked at Thomas and said
Jesus: I know you have questions. Why don’t you come over here and look at my hands
Narrator: Jesus held out his hands for Thomas to see…
Thomas: I can see the holes in your hands, Jesus
Jesus: And look, here is the hole in my side where the soldiers stuck me with a spear
Thomas: I can see the scar from where you were stuck with a spear
Jesus: You can touch them if that makes any difference to you
Narrator: Thomas fell to his knees and said
Thomas: Jesus, you are my Lord and my God!!
Jesus: You have seen me and believed. I am glad about that. But even better are those who haven’t seen me, but still believe.
Teacher: The point Jesus was making is that some things we will be able to see – we can look around and see God’s fingerprints on all of creation and know that there is a God. But we won’t always have things we can see and touch and hear, and God is asking us to trust him and still believe. Our lives will be blessed and guided and directed by God if we believe in him and allow him to work in us.
Blessing (1 Minute)
Pray for the kids – pray that they would go to God with their questions knowing that He cares about them and wants to help them. Pray that they would trust Jesus, even for the things they don’t fully understand. If you would like to, you can add:
“I pray this blessing over each one of you.
Each of you is precious in God’s sight.
God sees you every minute of every day and he loves you.
I pray that you will come to know and love Jesus with all your heart for all your days.
May the Lord bless you and protect you.
May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace. Amen.”
Since our building is used for many different things, we need to make sure we clean up after ourselves. You can definitely have the kids help you do this near the end of the morning!!
- Please use the BAG provided to put all the left-over items into it, and then you can leave your bag in the classroom.
- Please pick up all the garbage and put it in the trash
- If there are chairs or stools, please fold or stack them and put them away
- Please turn the heat down (applicable for youth room and Gazebo) to 10 degrees
- Please make sure any TVs/DVDs/Projectors are powered off
- Please make sure all toys are put away
Thank you so very much!