Easter Resurrection

Workshop Leaders’ Bible Study

This workshop leader’s Bible study is a historical, theological, and contextual introduction to the Easter Resurrection rotation of Kirk of Kildaire’s Faith Quest workshop rotation program.  It is intended to provide workshop leaders with:

·         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.

In Kirk of Kildaire’s Faith Quest program, workshop leaders attend a one-hour Bible study two weeks prior to the start of a new rotation.  This Bible study helps workshop leaders understand how the concepts to be taught to the children are derived from the Bible story and how the lessons in the rotation fit together to reinforce the concepts.  It also provides an opportunity for the workshop leaders to grow in their own faith and understanding of the Bible.

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

Memory verse for this rotation:

            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.

Prayer Concerns & Prayer

·         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.

Reading the text

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.


Historical, Theological, and Biblical Contexts



            The author 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 Ephesus.  Current scholarship however holds that there is no solid evidence to support John as the author who identifies himself only as the beloved disciple (O’Day, 500).  Also Ephesus is now considered as one among many possible locations for the writing of John.  It is believed that the Gospel was written sometime between 75-100 CE for a community that found itself in a struggle with Jewish leaders.  In her commentary on John Gail O’Day says that “The Fourth Evangelist and those for whom he wrote understood themselves to be a persecuted religious minority, expelled from the synagogue, their religious home, because of their faith in Jesus” ( 505).


            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 Sea of Tiberius


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.


  1. What does the Gospel tell us about God and Christ (Theology and Christology)?  “The ultimate concern of this Gospel is with God.  The good news is the revelation of God in Jesus” (O’Day, 496).  Jesus did not come into the world to replace God but to reveal God more fully to us so that we might know God.  Note how God is referred to in John (“the one who sent me” and “the Father”) (O’Day, 496).
  2. What does the Gospel tell us about the Church (Ecclesiology)?  John’s ideas about how believers should live together is expressed in John 13:34-35 and following this commandment is “to live out the love of the incarnation”  (O’Day, 496-497).
  3. What does the Gospel tell us about the Spirit (Pneumatology)?  God is revealed to us now by the Spirit who “makes it possible for succeeding generations of believers to come to know the God revealed in Jesus” (O’Day, 497).
  4. What does the Gospel tell us about the future/end times/coming of God’s kingdom (Eschatology)?  “John’s eschatology is also shaped by his understanding of the incarnation . . ..  One does not have to wait for a future revealing of the fullness of God’s glory and God’s will for the world or for eternal life to be bestowed.  Both are available now in Jesus” (O’Day, 497).


John 20:1-18



            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 16:20, 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.



John 21:1-14


Most scholars 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 Sea of Tiberius:  “v. 1-14 Jesus appears to the gathered disciples and v. 15-24 Jesus speaks to Peter about his future and that of the beloved disciple” (855).

            This 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 wedding in Cana (2:1-11) and the feeding of the five thousand (6:1-14).

Interesting Words, Phrases, Ideas

v. 1-3 Chapter 20 took place in Jerusalem but now we are in Galilee by the Sea of Tiberius.  This may be the storyteller’s way of demonstrating that Jesus is always with us (O’Day, 856).

“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 Cana and in the feeding of the five thousand, “the beloved disciple recognizes the abundance of fish as deriving from the fullness of Jesus’ gifts” (O’Day, 857).

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 6:44 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?

  1. Theology/Christology:  By announcing to Mary that he is ascending to God, “Jesus announces the completion of his glorification; his distinctive identity as the eschatological Son of Man is confirmed by his ascent” (O’Day, 843).
  2. Ecclesiology:  “Through Jesus’ ascension, the believing community receives a new identity” and we can now know God as intimately and fully as Jesus did (O’Day, 845).
  3. Pneumatology:  The Spirit will help the disciples fully understand Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension.
  4. Eschatology:  As a result of Jesus’ glorification, we can fully know God now, we do not have to wait.


Workshop Summaries

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.

Antioch Arcade:  The children will play a fishing game that reminds them of all the abundant gifts that we may receive through Jesus.  They will also discuss Jesus’ continuing presence with us.

Apostles’ Playhouse:  The class will act out the stories of the resurrection appearance to Mary at the tomb and the appearance to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberius.  They will also make a fish representing one of Jesus’ gifts.

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.


Review Questions

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?

Closing Prayer

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).