Prepare: Bring a digital camera or your phone – something that will let you take a picture of the children and show them the picture (a tablet with camera would be ideal). Also bring a stuffed animal, you will need someone to hold the animal secretly in the background of the picture, so make sure you have that set up in advance, don’t let the children see the animal!
Gather the children together and take a group picture, make sure they are looking at you and that you can get the stuffed elephant in the frame of the picture behind them. Odds are good that at least one of them will want to see the picture, but if no one asks to see it, then start saying how great it is. As soon as one of them asks to see it, gently tell them no, tell them that it is a great shot, they will just have to trust you. Then take it over to another adult in the room and show them, and get them to say that it’s a great picture, but still refuse to show the children. Then put the camera/phone away.
That is kind of what happens in the Gospel story today. Jesus shows up and talks to his friends, but one of them, Thomas, isn’t there. We don’t really know where Thomas was, but he was not with the others when Jesus appeared to them. When the other disciples tell Thomas that they saw Jesus he say, “I don’t believe it. And I won’t believe it unless I can see him with my own eyes, unless I can touch the places where he was injured.” This is a little different than you trusting that the picture was a good one, it would be like me saying that there was an elephant in the background of the picture I just took. Would you believe that? No, you would have known if there was an elephant in the room, right? And if there had been an elephant in the room, and you told your friends at school they wouldn’t believe you either, right? They would want to come and see the elephant, just like Thomas wanted to see Jesus!
The good news for Thomas is that Jesus does come back, and Thomas does get to see and touch and experience Jesus. Then Jesus says, “blessed are those who have NOT seen and still believe.” Jesus isn’t really saying that Thomas was wrong for what he wanted. Jesus is saying that Thomas got an amazing gift that almost no one else will ever get – the chance to touch Jesus! We believe without Jesus appearing to us, we believe without touching Jesus hands and feet. Thomas was blessed with the experience of Jesus alive in front of him, we are blessed because we believe in the risen Christ without proof we can see or touch.
So, what about that elephant in the picture? Do you believe that there was an elephant in the picture?
Let’s take a look . . .
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