Matthew 14:22-33, New International Reader's Version (NIRV)
Jesus Walks on the Water
22Right away Jesus made the disciples get into the boat. He had them go on ahead of him to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. Then he sent the crowd away. 23After he had sent them away, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone. 24The boat was already a long way from land. It was being pounded by the waves because the wind was blowing against it.
25Shortly before dawn, Jesus went out to the disciples. He walked on the lake. 26They saw him walking on the lake and were terrified. “It’s a ghost!” they said. And they cried out in fear.
27Right away Jesus called out to them, “Be brave! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
28“Lord, is it you?” Peter asked. “If it is, tell me to come to you on the water.”
29“Come,” Jesus said.
So Peter got out of the boat. He walked on the water toward Jesus. 30But when Peter saw the wind, he was afraid. He began to sink. He cried out, “Lord! Save me!”
31Right away Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “Your faith is so small!” he said. “Why did you doubt me?”
32When they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33Then those in the boat worshiped Jesus. They said, “You really are the Son of God!”
- Picture of Jesus - You can use a picture in a frame that you have in your church that the children will identify or print one from web. (Select an image of Jesus that you feel reflects your context.)
Today we are going on a boat ride! (Have the children sit and rock back and forth, as if they are on a boat. Give them directions about which way to sway as they are seated. The motion should be slow and gentle.)
In today’s scripture story, found in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus’ disciples got into a boat and headed for the other side of the lake. (Have kids move again slowly.) Jesus was not with them, as he wanted to spend some time alone praying.
When Jesus finished praying, he went to get on the boat with the disciples, but the boat had already left the shore and was far out in the lake. What do you think Jesus did? (Allow children to answer.) Jesus walked on the water to get to the boat! What do you think it would be like to walk on water? Have you ever seen someone at the pool walking on the water?
What do you think the disciples thought when they saw Jesus walking on the water? They didn’t recognize him at first, and they were scared. But Jesus told them that it was he and to not be afraid.
Then Peter wanted Jesus to prove that he really was Jesus, so he asked Jesus to allow him to come out on the water too. Imagine how Peter felt when he put that first foot over the side of the boat and felt the cold wet water splashing his leg. He puts his weight on the water, and it held him up! Then he put his other foot on the water, and he stood up. Peter never took his eyes off Jesus. But then the wind kicked up, Peter took his eyes off Jesus and got scared again. He began to sink. Jesus took Peter’s hand and lifted him out of the water.
Jesus asked Peter, “Why did you doubt?’ Doubt means that you don’t really believe something is going to happen. Peter doubted that he would be able to walk on the water as Jesus had, even though he was doing it. Why do you think Peter became afraid? What do you do when you get scared?
When Jesus and Peter got back in the boat, Peter and the other disciples began to worship Jesus and said that Jesus truly was the Son of God.
Jesus remained faithful to Peter, even when Peter doubted and became afraid. Jesus doesn’t call on us to walk on water, but sometimes we are in difficult places and scared. It feels like the waves are crashing on us and the wind is blowing strong against us. Jesus is faithful to us and will help us through those tough times too! This story lets us know that God is near and helps us, even when we find it hard to believe.
Let’s pray. After we pray and are going back to our seats, I want you to focus on this picture and look Jesus in the eyes. Just like Peter did, focus on Jesus.
Prayer: Loving God, thank you that Jesus will always be faithful to be there for us, even when we have doubts. Remind us as we look into the eyes of Jesus to never take our focus off him. Help us to always trust him. In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen.