Peter Learns about Jesus
- Express excitement and eagerness to learn more about Jesus.
- Imagine how Peter felt in the storm and when Jesus rescued him.
- Feel secure knowing that we can trust Jesus to care for us.
- Praise Jesus for his loving care.
In this story we see Jesus as a grown man well into his ministry. He has called twelve disciples to help him. Peter is, without a doubt, the most interesting character among those disciples. Hes bold and fearful, impetuous and slow to understand, insightful and dreadfully wrong. What a fascinating mixture of characteristics! No wonder there's so much about Peter in the gospels.
At this point Peter has been with Jesus as a disciple for some time. Once again Jesus is surrounded by a big crowd. He has just fed five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish, and they don't want to leave. So Jesus sends the disciples off in a boat while he persuades the crowd to go home.
Once the crowd has gone, Jesus goes up on the mountain to pray. It's important to note how often he needs and wants to spend time with his Father in prayer. For him, that seemed to be as essential as eating and sleeping---perhaps even more essential.
Meanwhile, the disciples are out on the lake having a difficult time because of the strong winds. In the middle of the night Jesus comes to the boat, walking on the water. Imagine how spooky it must have felt for the disciples to see this human form coming toward them over the raging waves. Scared witless, they think its a ghost.
Jesus calls out to them, It's me. Don't be afraid! But we miss something in the English translation. What Jesus literally says is, I am, the holy, covenant name God used with Moses. Jesus seems to be saying, "I am no demonic force or ghostly presence. I am the divine presence among you. I am the one who comes from God the Father. It is by the Fathers power that I do these wonderful things."
Impulsively Peter makes a request that wouldn't occur to anyone else. Lord, if it's you, tell me to come to you on the water. This might seem like a childish impulse, but it's really a disciple's desire to do what his master does. Jesus says, Come. And Peter begins walking toward Jesus on the water.
But then Peter starts to sink. Why? The text says that he sees the wind and the waves and gets scared. Then Jesus reaches out his hand to the frightened disciple, grabbing him out of the water. You of little faith, Jesus says to him, why did you doubt?
When they're all safely back in the boat and the wind has died down, the disciples look at Jesus in awe. Truly you are the Son of God, they exclaim.
So what happened with Peter? Filled with wonder and enthusiasm, Peter believed he could do what his master was doing. At Jesus' invitation he leaped out of the boat. Then reality came crashing in as the wind howled and the waves crested. This is a picture many of us can identify with. Our faith takes off with genuine enthusiasm, but then the waves and wind of real life cause us to doubt and we take our eyes off Jesus. And Jesus asks us, as he asked Peter, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?
What does this simple description of Jesus at prayer tell you about Jesus' prayer life? About your own? About prayer itself?
What motivated Peter to want to join Jesus in walking on the water?
How does Jesus' response to Peter's sinking faith strike you? Is there a difference between little faith and no faith?
Young children are often frightened. The adult world can be very threatening, and there is little they can do to understand it or counter its dangers. This story may help them learn to trust Jesus, not matter what's going on around them.
While the children do not see Jesus, they do see you. They need to see your faith in action, even though you sometimes struggle with it. Tell them about a time you had to trust Jesus when it was difficult.
Before children arrive, print and cut apart the six story symbols for this unit. Hang the symbols from previous sessions of this unit with those from units 1 and 2. Use the masking tape to tape a rowboat shape on your floor. Make it large enough so you and your group can fit inside.
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DWELL helps kids find their place in God's Big Story. Learn more about this popular and trusted children’s ministry curriculum.