The text for this lesson is Matthew 14:22–33.
- Jesus was gracious to Peter when he feared drowning. Jesus is gracious to us and is ready to catch us as we sink in sin and unbelief; His hand is always strong to save us.
This story is preceded by the feeding of the five thousand. Both accounts are “exodus flavored,” only in reverse. In Exodus, the Israelites crossed the Red Sea and then were miraculously fed manna in the desolate country. In Matthew, the Jews are miraculously fed bread; then the disciples cross the Sea of Galilee. Both sea traversals happen at night (Exodus 14:21–25; Matthew 14:25), and both are made possible only by the Lord’s miracle. He is the one who brings about the new and better exodus for Israel and the world—an exodus out of sin and death into righteousness and life.
Discussion Points and Questions
- Read Matthew 14:22–24. Why does Jesus send His disciples ahead of Him? What had Jesus been doing prior to this? Why had He gone out to this desolate place in the first place? What does Jesus finally have the opportunity to do?
- While Jesus is praying, where are the disciples? What is happening to them and their boat? How does this experience contrast with what Jesus has been doing?
- Read through the account of Jesus’ meeting up with the disciples again (Matthew 14:25–28). Take the words at face value. What’s really happening? Do the disciples really believe they’re seeing a ghost? Do they still doubt when Jesus speaks to them?
- Peter is in a precarious position, not only with respect to the storm, but also with respect to his understanding of Jesus. His reason tells him that it can’t be the man Jesus, but his heart and senses tell him that maybe this is Jesus. What does he need to be sure? What causes him to doubt again?
- What does Jesus do after Peter begins to doubt? Does the confession of the disciples change throughout this experience?
- The disciples were continually wavering in their faith. Do we sometimes waver in our faith? How does Jesus help us with our faith?
- How then does this story call us to react when the storms of our lives trouble us?
For next week, read John 2:13–22, Jesus clearing the temple. Jesus is usually depicted in the Gospels as authoritative and able to “out-teach” everyone else, but still meek. These violent acts may seem out of character at first. Consider what Jesus is really doing here and what we are to think of His actions.