Passing it on
You will need lots of sheets of paper and some pens.
Have everyone choose a favourite verse from the Bible (you may have some suggestions ready) and write it on a sheet of paper. Then they can make it into an aeroplane with the verse hidden on the inside and decorate the outside if they want.
Read out the last verse of this reading, (“These things are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”) and as you reach the word ‘life’, have everyone throw the planes into the air and catch a different one as it falls. Make sure everyone has a message that has been passed on to take home with them.
These Things are Written (John 20:31)
I love the start of this scene. Jesus appears, with a total lack of explanation, and says (wait for it), ‘Hi’.
That’s it. No fanfare or angelic host. No ‘Guess who!’ Just ‘Hi’. Plain, simple, everyday ‘Hi’.
Sometimes we make a big deal about Jesus’ greeting in verse 19, as if he were dispensing a tangible dollop of concord on his disciples. But ‘peace be with you’ was simply the standard greeting back then. Still is in many places.
Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Hi’, like nothing weird had happened. I suppose to him, nothing had. He had completed the work he had come to earth to do. He had returned to glory and his father’s presence and now, in the glorious body he had worn since before the word began, he popped back to say ‘Hi’ to his friends. The being born as a human baby would have been weird for Jesus; the post resurrection body was just normal for him.
The disciples were still reeling from the trauma of Good Friday and perplexed by the incredible reports of some skittish women. All their hopes and dreams had been dashed and they were trying to work out where they should go next. But for Jesus, this was all part of the bigger picture. The plan drawn up from eternity was almost complete. His part was done, it was time to pass the big chair to someone else. It was like a boss handing a business over to an assistant, or changing command of the International Space Station. I’ve been doing it, but my tour of duty is over, so it’s your turn now.
It’s interesting to see how many times this ‘passing it on’ happens in the passage. Jesus was sent and he passes on the sending (v21). He passes on the Holy Spirit, whom he received at his baptism (v22).
The disciples get right on with their task of passing it on, by telling Thomas (v25). When he finally believes, Jesus remarks upon those to come who will believe (v29). But they will believe not having seen, so someone must have passed it on to them – the next link in the chain. And each one to whom the message is passed must pass it on further. Finally the chain links right down to you and me (v31).
On January 22nd, 1982 at about 9:15pm, someone passed it on. I heard. I believed. And now I’m passing it in to you.
… so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
It’s like we’re linked in a giant game of Chinese Whispers. Think of the people who have passed the message on to you and thank God for them. Think of the people to who you pass it on – by life, by word, by action – and pray that God will open their minds as he did Thomas’.
Risen, Glorious Lord Jesus,
Thank you that as you stood with your confused, perplexed disciples on that Easter Sunday evening, so you stand with us now.
You send us now.
You equip us with your Holy Spirit now.
May we take our commission seriously – to go in your power and to pass it on.
John 20:19-31 English Standard Version
On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”
Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”
Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.