Lesson Twenty Seven


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Memory Verse: 1 John 4:15
Further Study: John 20:24-29; The Desire of Ages, pp. 806-808; The Bible Story, vol. 9, pp. 165-169

My granddaughter has recently learned the game of peekaboo. At first, we could erupt giggles of joy simply by hiding our face behind our hands and then opening them to reveal who was hiding. It has now advanced to her taking a blanket and hiding only her eyes (or one eye) and then lowering the blanket. Even though she’s in full sight to us, she thinks we can’t see her. 

This is a developmental milestone for our baby. During the first months of her life, she thought if she couldn’t see something it no longer existed. This is why playing peekaboo with her becomes important—she is learning that someone is still there even though she can’t see them. This is called object permanence. Object permanence is when a baby recognizes a toy or person exists even if they can’t see them.

Thomas had some of his own challenges with object permanence. 

Thomas had some of his own challenges with object permanence. When Jesus died, Thomas was disappointed, discouraged, and depressed. We know of Thomas’ investment in Jesus because he vowed to die with Him when Jesus decided to head for Jerusalem (John 11:16). But when Jesus died, everything Thomas had hoped for vanished. His grief and despair were of such magnitude, he withdrew completely and missed when Jesus appeared to the disciples Sunday evening, the day of resurrection.

Later Thomas heard of the multiple sightings of Jesus. But Thomas made a declarative statement: “Unless I see and touch Him, I won’t believe.” He lacked object permanence—if He’s not here, He doesn’t exist. The next time the disciples were together (with Thomas this time), Jesus appeared in the same manner. He repeated His earlier visit, the one Thomas missed, almost exactly as He did before. It was as if Jesus was seeking Thomas specifically to give him the opportunity he required—to see Jesus and touch Him. Jesus gently reproved Thomas for his unbelief, and then made a statement about us: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (verse 29).

My two-year-old grandson started a four-hour preschool program this year for one day a week. Each week when his school day ended, his mother would call me while they traveled home in the car. Each week I would ask him, “How was school?” and for weeks his first response was always the same: “Mommy came back!” Once babies have mastered object permanence—things that disappear still exist—the next step is understanding that when someone goes away, they will return.

Jesus advises us to become as little children. 

I think this helps us better understand why Jesus advises us to become as little children. As adults we need a spiritual understanding of object permanence. First, even though we cannot see Jesus, we know He is there to supply all our needs. And second, while Jesus left, He said He would return. One day the clouds will part, the trumpets will sound, and the first words we will say as we look heavenward will be “Jesus came back!” 

Let us practice “spiritual permanence” each day until Jesus returns and be renewed.

Digging Deeper 

Thomas was ready to be part of Jesus’ “new” kingdom—the earthly one. He recognized that if Jesus was resurrected, it wasn’t going to happen. And here’s where our expectations can get us into some serious trouble. We can be so focused on what we think should happen, we don’t recognize that what happened is better. With Thomas, he’s disappointed Jesus is alive! And there is also the obvious. If Jesus had remained dead, there still would be no earthly kingdom! Instead of focusing on the news of a forever kingdom the Resurrection accomplished, Thomas focused on the failure of his own expectations. 

Thomas was disappointed that Jesus would not be establishing an earthly kingdom, completely missing the larger point, that the Resurrection confirmed Jesus’ heavenly kingdom as well as His crushing of sin to become King and Lord of the universe. But when Thomas heard Jesus tell him exactly what he was thinking—thoughts of doubt and despair that he’d shared with no one else—he exclaimed, “My Lord and My God.” His confession is a complete and utter turnaround.

The title Thomas uses for Jesus in the Greek is Kurios, which translated into Hebrew is YHWH, or “Jehovah.” This name is associated with the God of the Old Testament. 

In his admission, Thomas declared Jesus as Theos in the Greek, which in Hebrew is Elohim. This title, in the New Testament, is generally used for God the Father. In what must have been limited understanding, but divinely inspired, Thomas recognized at least part of the Godhead as he associated Jesus, the Christ, with God, the Father. This is a deeper level of understanding than any of the disciples had up to that point.

From his place of discouragement, Thomas moved to a place that surpassed understanding for a disciple. Likewise, Jesus can do the same with us. 


Making it Real

Expectations can be difficult. Sometimes we keep our expectations low, so we aren’t surprised or disappointed. In what way should our expectations be high for Jesus’ return? How can we practice our anticipation?

If you have children, part of family worship could include a game of peekaboo (for infants) or a short game of hide and seek. Talk to them in terms they can understand about hiding and the joy of being found. Jesus sometimes feels like He is finding, but He’s coming to find us!


Merle Poirier writes from Silver Spring, Maryland, where she works as the operation manager for Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines as well as the designer for KidsView, a magazine for 8-12-year-olds. She enjoys spending time with her family including being a grandmother to two active little boys, who greatly enjoy Starting With Jesus, and a granddaughter, who’s delighting everyone with her smiles. She is blessed to have all three living close by, continually bringing joy and delight.


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