This workshop leader’s Bible study
is a historical, theological, and contextual introduction to the Easter
Resurrection rotation of
· A historical context for understanding the Bible story.
· A Biblical context for reading and teaching the story.
· The theological basis for the concepts to be taught to the children.
It will be helpful to have a chalkboard, whiteboard, or flip chart for writing down questions or observations during the Bible study.
Note: This is not a comprehensive study of the text, but only a few notes to help provide context and background for workshop leaders. Consult titles cited in the reference list at the end of these notes for more information.
John 20:1-18 and 21:1-14
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life!” John 14:6 (CEV)
· Jesus conquered death.
· Although Jesus has returned to be with God, he remains present with us.
· Jesus keeps his promise to us.
· God’s abundant gifts are available through Jesus Christ.
· If workshop leaders do not know each other, give them an opportunity to introduce each other and say which workshop they will be leading.
· Begin the Bible study by praying for God’s guidance as teachers begin a new rotation.
Ask a workshop leader to read the text aloud. Since this rotation focuses on an entire chapter, you might want to divide the reading among three or four workshop leaders.
Ask the workshop leaders what questions came to mind as they heard the story or read it before the Bible study. Write down any questions that arise and will need to be answered during the Bible study.
GOSPEL OF JOHN
of the Gospel of John does not identify himself nor does he tell us when or
where he is writing. Church tradition
identified the author as John the son of Zebedee, a disciple of Jesus and held
that the Gospel was written in
John is the Fourth Gospel, a theological narrative written to tell the Good News of God revealed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Both the story told about Jesus and the style used to tell it, differ greatly in John as compared with the other three Gospels (O’Day, 493). Matthew, Mark and Luke are grouped together as the Synoptic Gospels which means “seen together” and John is thought of separately as the Fourth Gospel (O’Day, 494).
John 13:1 is a turning point in the Gospel and therefore John has traditionally been divided into two parts: Chapters 1-12 (The Book of Signs) and Chapters 13-20 (The Book of Glory) (O’Day, 507). Chapter 21 “is most often treated as an appendix or second ending but O’Day sees it as integral to the gospel (O’Day, 507 and 509). Believing that this oversimplifies things, Gail O’Day offers the following structure in her commentary in the New Interpreters’ Bible (pp.508-509):
John 1:1-51 The Prelude to Jesus’ Ministry
John 2:1-5:47 “The Greater Things”: Jesus’ Words and Works
John 6:1-10:42 Jesus Words and Works: Conflict and Opposition Grow
John 11:1-12:50 The Prelude to Jesus’ Hour
John 13:1-17:26 The Farewell Meal and Words of Jesus
John 18:1-19:42 “The Hour Has Come”: Jesus’ Arrest, Trial and Death
John 20:1-31 The First Resurrection Appearances
John 21:1:25 Jesus’
Resurrection Appearance at the
The overriding theme and “foundation on which the rest of the Gospel is built” is that “Jesus is the incarnate Word of God” (O’Day, 495). All of the other themes reflect and build upon this central idea.
The Gospels all begin their resurrection accounts in similar ways and then diverge which “suggests that the early church had a rich tradition of resurrection stories” (O’Day, 838). John 20 contains three stories organized as follows:
“v. 1-18 Sunday morning: The empty tomb and Jesus’ appearance to Mary Magdalene
v. 19-23 Sunday evening: Jesus’ appearance to the gathered disciples (without Thomas)
v. 24-31 One week later: Jesus’ appearance to Thomas and the gathered disciples.” (O’Day, 838).
Interesting Words, Phrases, Ideas
v. 1-2 What do we really know about Mary Magdalene?
v. 3-10 Peter represents all disciples. The beloved disciples’ role “is to embody the love and intimacy with Jesus that is the goal of discipleship in John” (O’Day, 840).
The evidence of the linen wrappings and Jesus’ head wrap are evidence that Jesus “has left death behind” (O’Day, 841). At this point there is only evidence of the fact that the tomb is empty, not of a resurrection. Given this evidence the beloved disciple believes that Jesus has conquered death. Peter behaves true to character by not hesitating to go straight into the tomb ahead of the beloved disciple.
v. 11-13 soon Mary’s weeping will be turned to joy as Jesus promised in , 22.
v. 14-18 Note the tension in the fact that we know that it is Jesus but Mary does not. O’Day says that “the dramatic and theological heart of this story is verses 14-18” (842). When Jesus speaks her name Mary recognizes him and calls him Rabbouni, a personal and intimate form of Rabbi or teacher (O’Day, 842). Jesus himself, rather than the angels, announces to Mary who he is and what his appearance means. He commands her not to hold on to him but to tell the others of his ascension.
believe that John 21 was a latter addition to the gospel and “should be
interpreted as a postscript or epilogue to the Gospel” (O’ Day, 854). Gail O’ Day argues in her commentary for the New
Interpreter’s Bible that chapter 21 was written as an integral part of the
Gospel and should be read that way (854-855).
She offers the following structure of John 21 which takes place at the
story is both a miracle story and a recognition story. The miracle reveals to us and the disciples
the truth of who Jesus is (O’Day, 856).
This story is also important when read in light of the miracle at the
Interesting Words, Phrases, Ideas
v. 1-3 Chapter 20 took place in
“to show oneself” or “to reveal” is repeated twice in the first sentence and again at the end of the story to emphasize “that the miracle story that follows is an epiphany and should be interpreted in the light of the revelatory acts of Jesus’ ministry” (O’Day, 856).
v. 4-6 We again have a case of mistaken identity as in the previous story with Mary Magdalene. The story of the miracle is narrated in verse 6.
v. 7 As soon as the miracle is performed, the beloved
disciple recognizes Jesus and then Peter impulsively jumps in to swim to
Jesus. When have we seen Peter (and the
beloved disciple) acting this way before?? Having already seen Jesus perform
the miracle at
v. 9 Jesus has prepared a meal of bread and fish (sound familiar?) for the disciples confirming “that he is the giver of gifts, the source of life-sustaining nourishment” (O’Day, 858).
v. 10-11 Attention is drawn repeatedly to the large number of fish that were caught.
“The verb ‘to haul’ is the same verb used in to describe those who come to Jesus from God” (O’Day, 858). This may be a reference to the mission to which the disciples are being called – to draw people to God in Jesus.
How are the overall themes of John played out in these stories?
Ask each workshop leader to summarize his or her workshop. As they do so, point out the concepts that each lesson reinforces. Ask workshop leaders if they have any questions about the logistics or practical application of their lesson.
The class will act out the stories of the resurrection appearance to
Mary at the tomb and the appearance to the disciples at the
Bread of Life Café: The children will make spring flower cookies to remind them that Jesus conquered death and brought us new life just as he promised he would.
Creation Station: Children will create a cloth cross bookmark for their Bibles to remind them that Jesus died on the cross but was raised from death.
Holywood: The children will watch the video The Story of Easter and review the concepts in a discussion time.
Praising Puppets: The skits in this workshop will teach the children about Jesus’ important promises to us and give evidence of the promises being kept. They will also discuss the kind of gifts we receive abundantly from God, especially when we ask in the name of Jesus Christ.
Return to the questions that were gathered at the start of the hour. Have they been answered? Are there any further questions about the Bible story or about the lessons?
Close the Bible study with a prayer.
O’Day, Gail R. “The Gospel of John” The New Interpreter’s Bible, vol. IX. Leander Keck, et al. editors. (Nashville, Abingdon Press, 1995). (pp.493-514 and 838-853).