Here’s a free youth group lesson on Peter walking on water. Bottom Line:  No matter the storm around—don’t take your eyes off Jesus! Bible: Matthew 14:22-33; Isaiah 43:1-2

Includes a fun opening game to set up the lesson.

Enjoy!

-Ministry to Youth Team

Looking for youth ministry curriculum? Check out the…

SET APART – New 4-week youth ministry series about being holy (or set apart) in order to identify with God and live differently than those around us.

YOUTH GROUP LESSON – PETER WALKING ON WATER

Bible: Matthew 14:22-33; Isaiah 43:1-2

Bottom Line:  No matter the storm around—don’t take your eyes off Jesus!

OPENING GAME: WATER WARS RELAY

Game Supplies:

  • Water balloons (as many as your heart desires)
  • Tote or Wheelbarrow to store water balloons
  • 2 buckets filled with water
  • 2 empty buckets
  • Multiple extra-large sponges
  • 2 large pitchers filled with water
  • Multiple empty pitchers or large cups

Game Setup:

  • Fill two buckets and two pitchers with water. 
  • Prepare the water balloons and set them in a tote or wheelbarrow with water. 

How to Play the Game: 

This game consists of three parts for your teams to win points. 

Because of the water, it’s best to play outside when it’s warmer. 

You can set this up with two teams, but depending on your group size, you may want to split into 3-5 teams to keep the teams more manageable.

The first relay consists of the teams forming a single line. 

The first person in line has a bucket of water in front of them, and the last person in line has an empty bucket behind them.

Their goal is to soak the sponge, pass it over their head to the person behind them, and so on until the last person squeezes it into the empty bucket. 

Each team can use just one sponge, but it goes quicker if multiple sponges are at play. 

The winning team is whoever fills their empty bucket with water first. 

The second relay consists of everyone sitting in a straight line like last time. 

This round is played very similarly but does not involve sponges. 

This time, students must take their water pitcher and tip it over their heads behind them while the person behind them tries to fill their water pitcher with the pouring water.

They repeat this throughout the line until the last pitcher is full. 

The winning team is whoever fills their last teammate’s pitcher the fastest. 

The third and final relay involves the water balloons. 

Give each team a predetermined amount of water balloons—you could say five or ten. 

They all stand in a circle facing their teammates. 

The goal is to pass the water balloons around the circle to each other without dropping them. 

With every successful toss, all teammates must take one step apart from each other. 

The winning team is whoever the last team standing with water balloons is. 

Discuss how today’s lesson involves water and one of Jesus’ disciples having enough faith (just like how they had faith in their teammates) to step out onto the water and waves with Jesus.

TEACH

Have any of you ever felt like you were in the middle of a storm?

Not literally, but metaphorically speaking. 

Life can feel a lot like a raging storm tossing us around on the waves at times.

Change can come at us out of nowhere like a wave crashing down. 

Hurt can flash in our lives like lightning striking above our heads. 

Grief can sometimes roll on and on like thunder. 

Yes, in many ways, life can sometimes feel like being tossed around on a boat during a raging storm. 

And it can be terrifying. 

Have you ever wondered where Jesus was at a time like this? 

Have you ever wondered why He feels so far away? 

The disciples of Jesus in Matthew 14 were probably wondering the same thing. 

Jesus had just performed a miracle. 

He had fed over 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish. 

The disciples had worked alongside Him to help distribute this miracle meal to the thousands of hungry people. 

It had been a long and full day, and Jesus needed some time alone to pray.

So, He insists that His disciples get in the boat to cross to the other side of the lake, probably sending them towards home. 

Then He slips off by Himself into the hills, and He prays. 

He prays for a long time because, at this point, night has now fallen, and the disciples are in big trouble.

While on the lake, a strong wind comes up. 

It started to toss the little boat against the waves and water. 

Can you imagine the scene for a minute? 

Strong wind whips through your hair and clothes, feeling like it will knock you over.

The boat rocks from side to side as water rains down on you and pours into the boat. 

The water was probably getting into the boat faster than they were getting it out. 

They were probably exhausted, terrified, and feeling very alone out there on the big lake with huge waves tossing them back and forth. 

They were probably wondering:

Where was Jesus?

Why hadn’t He come to help them? 

Had He forgotten about them

And then, here comes Jesus. 

It’s now about 3 AM. 

Who knows how long the disciples had been battling the waves at this point! 

Who knows how seasick they’d become! 

But here comes Jesus towards them. 

Not in a boat but walking on top of the water!

Now, keep in mind this is not physically possible for you and me. 

It was not physically possible for the disciples or any other human being. 

It was only possible for the very Son of God to walk on top of the waves He had created. 

But the disciples completely freak out. 

And honestly, rightfully so.

If I was stuck on a boat in the middle of a raging storm and suddenly this person was walking towards me on top of the waves, illuminated by lightning, I would’ve questioned my sanity at that moment. 

The disciples were terrified. 

They had no idea it was Jesus. 

That thought hadn’t even crossed their minds. 

Instead, they were convinced that it was a ghost because that was clearly the next logical explanation. 

But Jesus calmly speaks to them and assures them that it’s not a ghost at all. 

It’s HIM!

Let’s pick up reading in Matthew 14: 27-29a.

27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”

28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”

29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said.

A note about Peter—Peter was the kind of guy that always seemed to jump before he thought. 

I’m not sure if the first thing out of my mouth in this situation would’ve been, “Jesus, if You call me, I’m going to get out there on the water with You!”

But that’s Peter’s first response. 

Let’s read the rest of the story in verses 29b-33:

So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.

31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”

32 When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.

Alright, there is a lot to unpack here. 

We see Peter jump over the side of the boat and land on the waves. 

But instead of sinking immediately, he walks! 

He begins to walk on top of the water towards Jesus. 

It’s a miracle. 

Can you imagine that moment? 

The waves beneath your feet and Jesus in front of you smiling. 

ButPeter began to look around him. 

He saw the storm. 

He felt the wind ripping through his shirt, and he felt the spray of the water smacking his face. 

He saw the height of the waves illuminated by lightning, and his fear came creeping back in.

He becomes terrified and immediately begins to sink beneath the waves. 

I wonder if this was an immediate drop into the water or a slow sinking beneath the waves.

Either way, he yells out to Jesus to save him. 

And immediately, Jesus catches his hand, grabs him, and pulls him back up to get into the boat. 

Wow.

There are three things I want us to learn from this story. 

Let’s start with number one.

1. Jesus is never far.

We see this truth in two separate parts of the story. 

First, we see it when Jesus comes to His disciples on the water. 

He knew exactly where they were and what they needed. 

He knew their trouble, and He was on His way to them.

He does the same for you. 

He knows exactly where you are in life and how you’re feeling right now. 

He knows whatever storm you’re facing in life at this very moment, and He promises to always be with you. 

Isaiah 43:1-2 is God reminding us:

But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you.    O Israel, the one who formed you says,“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.    I have called you by name; you are mine.When you go through deep waters,    I will be with you.When you go through rivers of difficulty,    you will not drown.When you walk through the fire of oppression,    you will not be burned up;    the flames will not consume you.

He walks with us and is near to us in our troubles.

We see this picture again when Peter looks around at the storm and starts to sink. 

And like I said, we don’t know if this was a slow sink or a very quick drop into the middle of the lake sinking. 

But the Scripture tells us that immediately, Jesus reached out and grabbed him. 

Jesus was not far. 

Jesus was close enough to grab him the moment he faced trouble. 

Jesus is close beside you, too. 

2. Be willing to get out of the boat.

How many disciples willingly jumped out of the boat to walk towards Jesus in the middle of the storm?

That’s right, just one—only Peter.  

Peter was the only one willing to face his fears head-on and have the faith to walk towards Jesus on the water. 

What boat do you need to get out of in your life? 

In what area of your life do you need the faith to walk towards Jesus? 

The boat is our safety net. 

It’s the part of our life that feels comfortable and safe. 

It definitely feels safer than the open waves and water in the middle of a storm.

But don’t you hear Jesus? 

He’s calling to you. 

He’s calling your name. 

Get out of the boat.

But when you do…

3. Keep your eyes on Jesus.

Peter’s faith wavered because he didn’t keep his eyes on Jesus. 

His mountaintop experience with his Savior came to a crashing halt the moment he looked at anything but his Savior’s face. 

We do the same thing. 

It’s easy to follow Jesus when life is great. 

It’s easy to look to Him in the middle of a mountaintop worship experience or moment of adrenaline and excitement, maybe at camp or a retreat. 

But what about when life gets real? 

When the storm gets louder? 

Our reaction is to look around. 

We see the wind and the waves and start sinking like Peter.

Whenever we focus on anything other than Jesus, we begin to doubt His goodness, faithfulness, and presence.

Peter had no reason to doubt. 

He was walking on water, for crying out loud! 

Jesus was right next to him. 

It was a miracle. 

But the storm scared him. 

The storms of my life scare me as well. 

The storms of your life scare you.

So, where are you fixing your eyes? 

Are they on Jesus?

When our eyes are on Jesus, we have no reason to fear the waves or the storm. 

We know He is right beside us, and we’re continually reminded of His goodness and faithfulness.

He is with us every step of the way.

So, what boat do you need to get out of? 

What area of your life do you need to fix your eyes on Jesus? 

He is never far away. 

He has been next to you all along. 

Let’s pray to close. 

SMALL GROUP QUESTIONS
  1. Do you remember a time in your life that felt like a storm raging around you? Maybe you’re walking through it right now. What is going on in that storm?
  2. What is your first reaction when life feels scary?
  3. What “boat” in your own life do you need to step out of to have a deeper trust in Jesus? What comfort or safety do you need to let go of to put all your trust in Jesus?
  4. What keeps us from getting out of the boat and trusting Jesus? What makes it difficult?
  5. When have you doubted Jesus? Maybe it was doubting His goodness, His faithfulness, or His presence. 
  6. Why do you think Jesus is worth trusting and putting your faith in?
  7. What are some ways to keep your focus and eyes on Jesus this week? How can we hold each other accountable?

End Lesson

Looking for youth ministry curriculum? Check out the…

SET APART – New 4-week youth ministry series about being holy (or set apart) in order to identify with God and live differently than those around us.

Want another free lesson? Check out this…

Youth Group Lesson on Peer Pressure

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