A Walk on Water

Workshop Leaders’ Bible Study

This workshop leader’s Bible study is a historical, theological, and contextual introduction to the A Walk on Water rotation of Kirk of Kildaire’s Faith Quest workshop rotation program.  It is intended to provide workshop leaders with:

·        A historical context for understanding the Bible story.

·        A Biblical context for reading and teaching the story.

·        The theological basis for the concepts to be taught to the children.

In Kirk of Kildaire’s Faith Quest program, workshop leaders attend a one-hour Bible study two weeks prior to the start of a new rotation.  This Bible study helps workshop leaders understand how the concepts to be taught to the children are derived from the Bible story and how the lessons in the rotation fit together to reinforce the concepts.  It also provides an opportunity for the workshop leaders to grow in their own faith and understanding of the Bible.

It will be helpful to have a chalkboard, whiteboard, or flip chart for writing down questions or observations during the Bible study.

Note:  This is not a comprehensive study of the text, but only a few notes to help provide context and background for workshop leaders.  Consult titles cited in the reference list at the end of these notes for more information.



            Matthew 14:22-33

Memory verse for this rotation:

            “Christ gives me the strength to face anything."  Philippians 4:13  CEV


q      Jesus, as the son of God, is powerful.

q      Jesus gives us the power to do God's work in the world.

q      Faith is believing God is with us.

q      If we focus on Jesus, our faith is strengthened.


Prayer Concerns & Prayer

·        If workshop leaders do not know each other, give them an opportunity to introduce each other and say which workshop they will be leading.

·        Begin the Bible study by praying for God’s guidance as teachers begin a new rotation.

Reading the text

Ask a workshop leader to read the text aloud.  Since this rotation focuses on an entire chapter, you might want to divide the reading among three or four workshop leaders.

Ask the workshop leaders what questions came to mind as they heard the story or read it before the Bible study.  Write down any questions that arise and will need to be answered during the Bible study.


Historical, Theological, and Biblical Contexts


Matthew 14:22-33



            This story falls in a section of Matthew (13:53-17:27) in which the author follows Mark very closely (Boring, 316).  The story of Jesus walking on water can also be found in Mark 6:45-52 and John 6:16-21.


Interesting Words/Phrases/Ideas

  • v. 22 – the disciples are on the Sea of Galilee again.  They go without Jesus – unusual and important!
  • v. 23 – Jesus goes alone to the mountain to pray – again reminiscent of Moses
  • v. 24 – The battered boat reminds us of the calming the storm story.  The boat, representing the church is being battered by the waves (literally translated, “being tortured”) (Boring, 327).  “The sea itself in biblical thought connotes the forces of chaos . . . representing all the anxieties and dark powers that threaten the goodness of the created order.  To be at sea evokes images of death . . .. The sea here is a barrier that separates the disciples from Jesus, who represents the presence of God.  In the midst of the chaos of the world, they are left alone in the boat/church, with only their fragile craft preserving them from its threat, buffeted by the stormy winds of conflict and persecution” (Boring, 327).
  • v. 25 - Early = the fourth watch = 3-6am
  • v. 27 – “It is I” can also be translated “I am” which is reminiscent of God’s (Yahweh’s) self-identification to Moses and others.  By walking on the water Jesus demonstrates that he has the power to overcome the chaos represented by the sea (“walking on”=conquest) (Boring, 328).  Also, “in biblical thought, only God walks on the sea” so with his words and his actions Jesus is identifying himself with God (Boring, 328).  God in Jesus is with the disciples on the sea.

Verses 28-31 were added by Matthew to Mark’s account and they emphasize the “ecclesial aspect” of the story by showing that Jesus “shares his power and authority with his disciples” (Boring, 328).

  • v. 28 Peter is representative of all the disciples and of us.
  • V. 30 - strong wind mentioned again.  “Lord save me” reminds me of the Calming the Storm story.
  • v. 31 – “You of little faith” - this is used many times in Matthew to describe the disciples.  Peter showed his lack of faith in needing proof and reassurance from Jesus.  When Jesus provided it for him, Peter did not stay focused on Jesus and began to sink.  The word used by Jesus to mean doubt “connotes vacillation, not skepticism” (Boring, 328).
  • v. 32 – there is that wind again!
  • v. 33 – The disciples worship Jesus and call him the Son of God.  Matthew’s ending to this story is quite different from Mark’s and “reflects the response of a grateful church that experiences the impossible presence of Christ with it in its mission – as promised” (Boring, 328).


  • The Conflict of Kingdoms and the nature of the kingdom of God:  The sea represents evil and chaos which Jesus triumphs over by walking on it.
  • The identity of Jesus Christ:  Jesus identifies himself saying “I am” which reminds us of God’s own self-identification.  Also the disciples call him the Son of God.
  • The identity of the true people of God:  Peter is representative of disciples as a whole.  As in the story of the calming of the storm, the boat represents the church or faith community.


Workshop Summaries

Ask each workshop leader to summarize his or her workshop.  As they do so, point out the concepts that each lesson reinforces.  Ask workshop leaders if they have any questions about the logistics or practical application of their lesson.

Antioch Arcade:  The children will play Where’s Jesus, a game that will illustrate the importance of focusing on Jesus in their lives and they will think about how they can do God’s work in the world.

Apostles’ Playhouse:  While exploring how to balance their bodies in different positions, the children will learn about how important it is to stay focused on Jesus when trying to live faithfully.

Creation Station:  The children will discuss how in this miracle showed the disciples the power of God and taught them to have faith that God will take care of them.  They will then create scratchboard drawings of Peter and Jesus on the water.

Good News:  The children will discover how when Peter trusted Jesus and stayed focused on him he was able to walk on water.  They will play a trusting game as they walk across the Good News Lake and will do a science experiment to see if an orange floats or sinks.

Holywood:  The children will review the concepts and the story by watching a video that depicts the miracle of Jesus walking on water.

Bread of Life Café:  Through a cooking demonstration where the leader makes Baked Alaska, the children will learn about how God cares for us and gives us strength and power that we could not have on our own.

Review Questions

Return to the questions that were gathered at the start of the hour.  Have they been answered?  Are there any further questions about the Bible story or about the lessons?

Closing Prayer

Close the Bible study with a prayer.



Boring, M. Eugene. “Matthew.” New Interpreter’s Bible, vol. VIII. Leander Keck, et al. editors. (Nashville, Abingdon Press, 1995).  pp. 89-124 and pp. 222-231.

Spivey, Robert A. and D. Moody Smith. Anatomy of the New Testament. (New Jersey, Prentice-Hall, 1995). pp. 97-129.