Peter Walks on Water
Summary of Lesson Activities:
In this workshop, the learners play a series of “trust” games to understand the connection between faith and trust, and a little bit what faith "feels like".
“But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.’”
- NRSV Bibles;
- a room or area behind a screen of some kind,
- set up as obstacle course that children will not see until blindfolded;
- questions for game (see end of lesson);
- picture of fishing boat of Bible times if possible;
- Read the Bible passage.
- Read over the background material included in your teacher packet as you review the lesson plan.
- Become familiar with the games and their rules.
Opening-Welcome and introductions:
Greet the children and introduce yourself. Remember that you are interacting with a different group of students each week—some may not know you. Wear your nametag and make sure that the children are wearing theirs.
Dig-Main Content and Reflection:
1. Have the students sit where you would like them to during the reading of the story from the Bible. Give some background to the story and set the stage: Jesus had been traveling about Galilee, performing many miracles and healing people. Then Jesus sent his disciples to cross the Sea of Galilee in their fishing boat. This sea is a very large lake set lower than the Mediterranean Sea to the west and bordered by many high mountains (see map). Because of the mountains, the lake sometimes receives surprisingly strong storms, even for experienced fishermen like several of Jesus’ disciples. The boats that they used on this lake are much the same today as in Jesus’ time. They are simple fishing boats, pointed at both ends with a mast and a square sail in the center.
2. Hand out Bibles and have them look up the scripture. Younger children can find the book of Matthew in the Bible with help and should recognize the verse numbers. Read the scripture or let them retell the story if they have heard it in previous workshops. Correct any mistakes they make in retelling the story.
3. Explain that this boat was probably not very big. Show a picture if one is available. Discuss the story by asking how they think the disciples felt when the waves began to hit the boat. (Accept any answer but lead them to the fact that it was dark and they were in the middle of a huge body of wate,r so fear is the natural reaction of most people.) Explain that the “fourth watch of the night” (verse 25) was between 3 and 6 a.m.
4. Ask the following questions:
- How do you think they felt when they saw Jesus walking on water? (Accept any answer)
- Why do you think Peter wanted to walk on water? (Accept any answer. Some might think he wanted to show Jesus his faith, to see what it would be like, or to be like Jesus. Any answer is fine because the question was what they think.)
- How do you think Peter felt when he began to sink and Jesus scolded him? (Accept any answer. Again you want to get a response as to what they think. You might tell them there is no incorrect answer. The only way they can “miss” is not to think.)
5. Tell them that we are going to do some activities today to see what it is like to trust or have faith in someone or something else. Play each of the three games detailed in the attachments to this lesson.
Bring the children back to the discussion area. Tell them that while you hope they had fun you also hope that they will remember how it felt to have faith in someone beside himself or herself. Explain that faith in God gives us hope and trust that God will always be with us and cares for us even when life does not go the way we want it to or according to our plans.
Game 1: Learning to trust God's Voice
- Assign each person a partner. (It is best if you assign the partners. That way no one will feel left out.)
- Blindfold one of the partners and take them into the room that has been set up as an obstacle course. Make clear that the speaking partner is in the role of God.
- The object is for the partner who can see to guide the other through the room without bumping into anything. They can do this with voice commands. You can give them a minute to talk about commands. (They may want to use some cue like “hot or danger” to warn them that they are about to hit something, etc.) "God" is not allowed to touch the person.
- You may start a second team after one is about half through. The person giving directions may not walk the path with them but may move along the area close to the blindfolded person.
- The team that successfully completes the obstacle course with “no bumps” wins the game.
- Move back to the discussion area. Talk about how the blindfolded person felt to trust someone else “to see for them.” Compare their feelings with Peter’s. While you are doing this have the shepherd or someone else change the obstacle course.
- Repeat with the other person being blindfolded.
Game 2: Trusting is Scary! ...the trust fall.
- Again assign each a partner. The shepherd or teacher will need to act as a back up in this game.
- One person is to stand with their back to their partner, and with legs stiff fall backwards. The object is for the partner to catch the falling person and not let them hit the floor. They can usually do this by putting both arms in front of their body with palms perpendicular to their body. An adult must back up the partner to keep anyone from falling and getting hurt. With younger children, you may want to place a large pillow under the falling person until they are confident that their partner will catch them. The ANXIETY is part of the lesson!
- After each has had a turn to “fall” you will want to give a minute to discuss the feelings of the person falling and the person catching the other.
Faith is scary. Like Peter, we have our doubts. Unlike our partner, God promises to always be there for us. Does that mean we cannot get hurt in life? No, it means that in life and in death, we are in God's hands, and he was "keep our life" as the scripture says.
Game 3: Do you trust yourself more, or God?
(Improved by Rotation.org reviewers during a renovation)
This is really just a fun quiz about the story, but has a slight reflection idea in it, that we often suffer for our 'wrong' choices when all we have to do is ask God for our help.
Mark out a simple game board of squares on the floor which lead to a finish line. 10 squares should be enough. Players pair up in teams of two.
Before the question is asked of the first person they must decide whether to trust himself or herself, -OR- to trust their partner to answer the question correctly. Give nametags to each player, either "Team 1 Me" or "Team 1 God", and so on, so you know who's with who.
If "Me" want to answer and get it right, they only advance ONE square forward. If "Me" says I'll let "God" answer (their partner) and God gets it right, they advance two squares. If God gets it wrong we have a good chuckle. (Yeah, I know, God always gets it right, but this is the third game for fun, and you can make the correct point.)
Now if you say "Me" (I'll try to answer) and get it wrong...then you have a penalty....
The Penalty: If "Me" answers it wrong, then they must eat a Hot Tamale candy or drink something gross like a small cup of unsugared cocoa water that has lemon juice in it. These options are clearly seen on a table, and when the Tamales are gone, players must choose from the other gross choices! (This 'penalty' is an old youth group adaption of the game and is a lot of fun). If the kids say "it doesn't taste so bad, pull out a bottle of worchestershire sauce and add a few drops.
Questions for Game 3
With older children you may want answers be closer to the exact words of the translation of the Bible you used when reading the story at the beginning of the class. Give younger children a little more leeway in their answers.
- Why did Jesus not get in the boat with the disciples when they left the shore? He was dismissing the crowd, then went to pray alone. Accept any part of this answer.
- What happened as evening came? The boat began to be tossed about by big waves, or a storm came. Accept any answer similar to this.
- What time was the “fourth watch of the night”? Between 3-6 a.m.
- What did the disciples say when they saw Jesus walking on the water? “It’s a ghost.”
- What did Jesus say to them when he saw they were afraid? Accept any answer that is similar to “It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
- What did Peter ask Jesus to do? Accept any answer similar to “Come to me.”
- When did Peter begin to sink? Accept any answer similar to “when he saw the wind.”
- What did Peter say when he began to sink? Accept any answer similar to “Lord, save me.”
- What does the Bible say Jesus did to save Peter? He reached out his hand and caught him.
- What did Jesus say to Peter? Accept any answer similar to “why did you doubt?”
- What happened when they got into the boat? The wind stopped.
- What did the disciples do when the wind stopped? Accept any answer similar to “They worshipped Jesus and said he was truly the Son of God.”
- Where did this story take place? You must name the sea. The Sea of Galilee.
- Where in the Bible is today’s scripture found? Matthew 14:22-33. Accept any part of the answer.
A lesson originally posted by Jan Marshall from: Brenthaven Cumberland Presbyterian,
A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability.