Faith: Walking on Water
What is faith?
by Nicola Freeman
Suitable for Key Stage 4/5 - Church Schools
To use the story of Peter walking on water to consider the meaning of faith and how it applies to daily life.
Preparation and materials
- You will need the PowerPoint slides that accompany this assembly (Faith - Walking on Water) and the means to display them.
- You will also need some seeds, a flowering plant in a pot and a watering can.
- Optional: you may need a blindfold if you carry out the task in the ‘Assembly’, Step 5.
- Show Slide 1.
Ask the students, ‘What does the word “faith” mean to you?’
You may wish to encourage the students to share their answers with those seated nearby or take answers from some of them.
- Point out that when people describe the word ‘faith’, the words that often crop up include religion, beliefs, trust and courage.
- Remind the students that when Jesus was on earth, he had 12 special followers called the disciples. One of the disciples was called Peter, who was described by Jesus as ‘the Rock’. After Jesus returned to heaven, Peter became the leader of the early Church.
Show Slide 2.
Explain that this story about Jesus walking on water is found in the Bible.
Read the passage from Matthew 14.25-32.
- Point out that it must have taken incredible faith for Peter to step out of the boat. It went against all logical thinking. Peter was a fisherman; he knew about water!
- Explain that you need a volunteer who will be blindfolded and will walk from one point to another. Ask the volunteer to stand up and explain that they can have someone to help them who will not be blindfolded.
When the volunteer has chosen their helper, ask the helper to stand up, too. Ask the volunteer to explain why they chose that person to help direct them.
Answers may include explanations such as ‘He/she is my friend,’ ‘I trust him/her,’ and ‘He/she won’t let me fall.’
Ask both students to sit back down; they don’t have to do the blindfolded walking task, although you may like them to anyway.
- Explain that Peter was able to get out of the boat because he knew Jesus and trusted him, just like (insert the student volunteer’s name) chose (insert the student helper’s name) to direct them because they trusted them. Peter trusted Jesus because they were friends and he knew that Jesus would not let him down.
- Show Slide 3.
Peter had been travelling around with Jesus and was part of Jesus’ friendship group. He knew who Jesus was because of the time that they had spent together.
In the Bible passage, we saw Peter call out, ‘Lord if it’s you, tell me to come to you.’ All Jesus had to say was, ‘Come,’ and Peter did, because he trusted him.
It’s a bit like when your phone rings and ‘No Caller ID’ appears on the screen, but when you answer it, someone says ‘Hi, it’s me,’ and you know who they are.
- Show Slide 4.
Christians believe that they can still hear the voice of God today. They believe that God speaks to them through the Bible.
In a way, the Bible is God’s way of texting us or messaging us on WhatsApp. It’s his way of being able to have a social media platform through which we can get to know what he’s like.
- Show Slide 5.
The strength of any relationship, and the faith and trust that we have in that person, is built on the experiences that we have shared.
The disciples had experienced many miracles with Jesus. The story about Peter walking on water follows the famous story about the feeding of the 5,000. In Matthew 8.23-27, there is another story about Jesus stopping a massive storm on the lake. The disciples were terrified, but Jesus spoke and the wind and the waves stopped immediately. Maybe this experience helped Peter to climb out of the boat: he had had experiences of Jesus being trustworthy.
Our confidence in someone or something is built on experience. The only way we gain experience is by stepping out of our comfort zone.
- Show Slide 6.
A verse in the Bible (James 2.22) says, ‘You see that his faith and his actions were working together and his faith was made complete by what he did.’
Show Slide 7.
Our faith is shown through our actions. It’s not enough to talk about trusting someone if we never put that trust into action. There is a famous Christian book by John Ortberg called If You Want to Walk on Water, You Have to Get Out of the Boat. Of all the disciples in the boat, only Peter showed his trust by his actions.
- What we believe affects what we do.
Show the seeds, the flowering plant in a pot and the watering can.
Point out that a seed doesn’t look like a plant when we plant it. The seed can’t even be seen in the soil, yet it has potential for growth. When it is watered, it grows and becomes a beautiful plant. If the seed was never planted, the plant would never grow. Likewise, if we don’t take small steps in trust, we will never be able to take bigger strides.
- Show Slide 8.
Faith affects our perspective. In the story of Peter, we see what happens when his perspective moves. As soon as Peter turns his eyes away from the person he trusts, he becomes afraid and begins to sink. At this point, Peter calls out to Jesus; he trusts him to help.
We all need people in our lives whom we can turn to when things go wrong. This could be a friend, teacher or family member. Christians believe that they can turn to God in any situation.
Time for reflection
Show Slide 9.
Explain that the image shows the front and the back of a tapestry. On the front, the picture is clear, but the back just looks like a mess of threads.
Christians believe that faith helps us to see beyond the mess and that God is making something through it. Faith helps us to believe that there is a bigger picture being made, even when life feels like a mess.
Show Slide 10.
- faith is built through relationships
- faith is built on experience
- faith requires action
- faith affects perspective
Encourage the students to pause to think about faith and trust.
Encourage them to consider whom they trust. Some will have a faith in God; others may have friends and family whom they trust; others may be struggling to think of anyone they feel that they can trust right now.
Emphasize the importance of trusting someone with our issues and problems. Emphasize the importance of talking and point out the help that is available in school.
Thank you for the example of Peter and all that we can learn about faith from his life.
May you help us to grow in faith.
Help us to be surrounded by those we can trust.
Help us to be people who can be trusted by others.
Help us to be willing to step into the unknown and try new experiences.
Thank you that you promise to be with us wherever we go.
‘Oceans (where feet may fail)’ by Hillsong United, available at: https://youtu.be/M9GcyHpptMk (8.17 minutes long)