(thank God I’m) in over my head
For this study, you’ll need Bibles, water balloons, and a baby pool.
Jesus and Peter have an excellent adventure on the water in Matthew 14:22-33. Teenagers will learn that when Jesus says, “Come,” he’s inviting us on an adventure with him, to go places where only he can take us.
Gather kids and open in prayer. Give a short background summary of Matthew 14 up to verse 22. Then read aloud Matthew 14:22-29.
Say something like: Jesus invited Peter to walk on water with him. Let’s respond like Peter did—let’s try it. Let’s walk on water.
Take your crew to the baby pool and, one-by-one, give them each a chance to walk on the water. Invite them to pray and believe, then walk, skip, or run on the water—just to see what happens. Of course, don’t force anyone to try this. If some decline that can be raw material for a later discussion.
Why did you fail at water-walking?
For those who didn’t give it a shot, why didn’t you?
What does it say about Jesus that he had the ability to water-walk?
After kids answer the questions, say something like: Water-walking is no average mode of transportation. Jesus must have been a pretty fun-loving guy. Notice that this is the only time Jesus ever walked on water, and it’s at 3 a.m. in the middle of the sea. When people are around he always walks on land or uses a boat. He’s no show-off.
Read aloud Matthew 14:25-29 then ask:
Why do the disciples react the way they do when they see Jesus walking on water?
How would you have reacted if one of your friends did it?
When have you tried something you weren’t sure you could do? Explain.
After you’ve heard a few stories, ask: What does it say about Jesus that he could help others water-walk?
After kids respond, say something like: Jesus has the power to get ordinary people to do things they could never do without him.
Read aloud Matthew 14:29-33, then ask: Why did Peter start to sink?
After kids respond, say something like: Peter probably uttered the Bible’s fastest prayer—“Help!” Whenever I read this passage, I always laugh. Think about it: Peter had to say, “Lord, save me,” in the time it took for him to sink from his ankles to his chin.
Why did Jesus respond the way he did to Peter after he sinks?
What’s the difference between “big” faith and “little” faith?
Do you think Jesus was ticked off at Peter? Why or why not?
Then say something like: I think Jesus was thrilled that Peter got out of the boat. He wanted Peter to taste a bit of the adventure-life Jesus wanted him to live. He wanted more for Peter.
Think about the disciples who stayed on the boat—how would you describe their faith?
What does this story show us about who Jesus is?
After kids respond, say something like: Jesus can do impossible things. And he likes to help others do things they could never do on their own. He wants to take us on adventures, out of our comfort zone, to be where he is.
What does this story say about what it is like to follow Jesus?
What’s something in your life right now that Jesus is calling you to “water-walk”?
After kids respond, say something like: Jesus wants us to trust him even if what he calls us to seems impossible. But if Jesus says come, we can know that with him we can do all things. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (NKJV).”
If that’s true, why couldn’t any of us walk on water today?
After kids respond, say something like: The only reason Peter was able to water-walk was that he’d fixed all of his attention on Jesus—Jesus fueled his faith. And when Jesus tells you to “come follow me,” and you do it, you’ll water-walk just like Peter. That doesn’t mean it’ll be perfect—Peter still sank. But he was the only one who got out of the boat to walk toward Jesus. Maybe Jesus is waiting, right now, to “walk on water” with you. How is he asking you to “come” right now in your life? Most of all, when he asks, he empowers.
Pray, thanking Jesus for calling us to follow—and for giving us the resources we need to do so.