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Matt. 14:22-33

Nina Lundgren

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, "Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid." Peter answered him, "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water." He said, "Come". So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sin, he cried out, "Lord, save me!" Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?" When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God".

* Read the following summary of the story to your group:

The story begins with Jesus asking his disciples to go aboard the boat and sail ahead of him to the other side of the Lake of Galilee. He has just performed a miracle: 5000 men, in addition to women and children, had been fed. He needed to be alone for a while, so that is why he sent his disciples before him.

When the evening came, he was alone. The boat was now far out in the middle of the lake, tossed by the waves, for the wind was blowing against the boat.

Jesus saw that the disciples were afraid, very afraid, when they saw him coming towards them on the water. Jesus calmed their fear, and he challenged Peter to join him on the water.

Peter went out of the boat and walked towards Jesus, and as long as he had his focus on Jesus he walked on the water without a problem. But when Peter realized he saw how strong the wind was, he became afraid, and Peter started to sink.

He called out for Jesus to help him, and Jesus did.

How did he dare to step out of the boat and walk on the water?

He was a fisherman, who had lived his whole life by the water. He had respect for the water, he knew how dangerous it could be. But he stepped out of the boat anyway.

Why?

Because Jesus called for him, and if there was anyone that Peter felt he could trust and feel secure with, it was Jesus. And something else: Peter saw Jesus' hand, and he knew that, whatever happened, Jesus would reach out and help him.

But suddenly Peter had started to doubt his ability; he started to think about just relying on himself, and that made him scared, because he realized that it was not possible for him to walk on water. And suddenly he started to sink, and he didn't see Jesus' hand anymore, and then he yelled, "Help Me, Jesus!"

And what did Jesus do? He stretched out his hand even farther, to show Peter that he was still there. And he grabbed Peter's hand and took him back into the boat.

But he also asked Peter, "Why didn't you trust me? Why did you loose your faith? Where were your hopes? Why didn't you see my hand anymore?"

Jesus wanted Peter to realize that hecontinued to be there for him.

Jesus wants us to realize that he is there for us. Even if we are way out on the sea, or in some other kind of trouble, he is there to give us hope, he is prepared to support us with his hands.

He doesn't leave us to ourselves at any time, but sometimes we don't see his hands, we don't realize he's there right by our side. Because we have closed our eyes. We don't want to see that he is there. We have already decided that it's no use to try doing anything more or different from what is normal, because we think it will only cost us more than we can pay.

It seems too much of a problem to go outside the normal limits that keep us safe. It might be a temptation to our enemies. We would be taking a risk. Are we willing to do that?

Things to talk about!

Have you ever done anything that you were not sure you could handle?
Has anybody asked you to do something you thought was too difficult?
Have you asked anyone to do anything like that for you?
If anyone asked you to do something scary for them, would you?
If you answer "yes": Why would you do it?
If you answer "no": Why not?
Is there anyone you feel you can always trust?
What is trust?
What makes a person "trustworthy"?
Are you a trustworthy person?
What do you think Jesus meant when he said to Peter, "O you of little faith" (Matt. 14:31)?
And how do you think Peter felt when Jesus reached out his hand to him?
What is hope?
Has anyone ever given you hope?
Have you ever given anyone hope?
How can you let a person know that you care without speaking?
How can you use your hands to show someone that you care?
How can we learn to see when someone is reaching out their supportive hands to us?
How can we tell when someone wants to help us?
Is helping someone else part of what it means to give them hope?

Things to do!

Let the children sit in a circle with their eyes shut, holding hands.

Ask one child to press the hand of the neighbour on his or her right side, and ask each child in turn to send this pressing, hand by hand, around the circle until it comes back to the original child. Do this without any sound.

Let the children organize themselves in pairs.

Tell them that one person in each pair is supposed to have his or her eyes shut, and let the other one lead them around the room. Do that for a while, and then tell the two children in each pair to change positions. After awhile you could ask them to make some small changes in the room (rearranging the furniture, for example), and make the area more difficult to walk through. There could be something to climb over or under, there might be some stairs to walk up and down, and so on. Perhaps you will have the opportunity to go outside. This will depend on your surroundings.

Let everyone stand in a circle very close to each other, almost shoulder to shoulder.

One child is in the middle. The person in the middle is supposed to feel so sure and trustful of his or her friends that he/she, with eyes shut, lets himself or herself lean round in the circle, supported by the hands of the other children. The children in the circle are to make sure he or she never falls. In the beginning the circle can be very narrow and then, after the group feels more secure, the circle can grow somewhat wider.

Let them create a drama, acting out one or more situations from their own lives when they have felt hope because of someone's actions, or when they felt they could share hope with someone else.