King Returns Part 2 Bible Study

Connie Rainwater

We all have moments that we are not proud of — times we have let people down, or failed at something when it really mattered, or just revealed our human weakness in a big way. 

For the disciples, this may have been one of those moments. It was much like the night before Jesus’ arrest, when He pleaded with them to stay and pray with Him (Matthew 26:36-46) and they all fell asleep. The most amazing event in all of history had just taken place — sin, death and hell had been conquered … and the disciples are, well … hiding.  

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
                        – John 20: 19-20 (NIV)

If there is anything that will keep us from living in the joy of the resurrection it is fear and doubt. In this session we will look at Jesus’ response to each of these very human experiences.

 

Share your story

What was your experience with Easter as a child? Did your family celebrate it culturally, with bunnies and candy? Did you celebrate it as believers? 

Regardless of your background, the fact that you are with this group indicates that you want to follow Jesus together. Which of the following best describes your group? 
• We are, much like the disciples, hiding out.
• We are not hiding out, but do choose to keep a low profile.
• We are open – ready to invite others to experience the love of Jesus and hear the gospel. 
• We are living out loud – and our group is serving and growing as we watch God at work in the lives of those around us. 

 

Hear God story
Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”
A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though 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; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.         – John 20:24-31 (NIV)

God has always made Himself knowable — from the time He walked in the garden in the cool of the evening with Adam and Eve, to His incarnation — He was always making Himself known to the world.  

So it was completely consistent with His nature for Jesus to reveal Himself and even to produce evidence to His followers that He was alive immediately after His resurrection. He had foreshadowed His victory over death by raising His friend Lazarus. Do you think this came to their minds, or was a part of their conversation? 

God is still making Himself known to us today. He reveals Himself through His Spirit, through His creation, through His Son, through His Word, and through His children. He is not a God who hides. 

RESPOND

What do you think Thomas meant by his statement?

What do Jesus’ actions tell you about His attitude toward doubt and faith? 

As a group, how does this affect your attitude toward those struggling with these issues? 

 

Create a new story 
And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.
                        – 1 Corinthians 15:17-19 (NIV)

The disciples we read about in John were among the first to begin living in the knowledge and belief of the resurrection. It would take some weeks for them to begin to understand what it all meant. But they spent every possible moment with Jesus. Some of them even witnessed His return to heaven (Luke 24:31). 

Like these early disciples, we live in a world where death gets all the headlines. As individuals and as a society, we are nearly suffocated by a constant tone of hopelessness. No wonder we often struggle with doubt and fear. Jesus came to replace our culture of doubt and fear with a culture of life and hope. 

RESPOND

On a scale of 1 to 10, how free are you from the fear? Clearly, unless Jesus returns, we will all face a physical death. What is it about death that we can escape? How is it a mindset, as well as a reality?

What would this look like for your group? 

If ever the church had a chance to proclaim the gospel of hope, light and life to a culture, we have that opportunity today.  How can we stay focused on Jesus as His witnesses in the midst of our culture? 

As a group, how could you stay focused on things that are hopeful, positive, and evoke gratitude in you? How could you stay focused on where God is working and engage there? 
 

Digging deeper: Other appearances to His followers after His resurrection

In this section we will explore how the disciples came to realize the truth that Jesus was alive, and their responses to it. 

After His resurrection He appeared to his disciples and others on several occasions. Luke and John provide details for most of those appearances. Below are some of the passages that tell about those encounters:
Matthew 28:16-20
Mark 16:9—20
Luke 24:36-53
John 21

After reading these passages, what reasons can you think of that Jesus might have stayed around, appearing to His followers again, rather than immediately returning to heaven?

How are each of these passages significant evidence of Jesus’ resurrection? What affects your doubt and faith - evidence or experience? 

Have you ever had someone respond like Thomas to the gospel? How would you answer someone who believed the resurrection was a hoax?

Are there ways that this study has affected your fear and/or doubt? Of faith and life? 


Daily Readings

Day 1

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.
Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.                          - John 1:1 (NIV)

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How does reading these words from the very first verses of John’s gospel help you see the themes of his message woven throughout his book? 

How does this affect your view of what the gospel is? 

 

Day 2

“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”      -John 5:24 (NIV)

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These verses indicate that there is a clear and immediate change of status for our present and our future when we believe in Him. Thank Him for that today, and ask Him to help you to live in the reality of the life He has given you. 

 

Day 3
“Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.”  - John 8:51 (NIV)

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You may have heard the old saying, “It’s hard to get out of this world alive.” While that is true, maybe part of our problem as believers is that we don’t understand what it is that is killing us. How could Christ change your perspective, your focus, and your attitude today? 

 

Day 4
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.”             - John 6:35        

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Ask the living God to feed your soul today. Ask Him to keep you hungry and thirsty for Him.

 

Day 5
For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.                            - John 17:2-3 (NIV)

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How are you coming to know Christ in a more real and personal way? How has your group helped you?