Scripture Reference: Luke 8:22-25
Suggested Emphasis: Jesus is so powerful he can control nature.
After an exhausting day of preaching to the multitudes, Jesus got in a boat and told the disciples to sail to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus went to sleep. A squall arose and high winds and raging waters put the boat in peril. Jesus slept through it all! When the frightened disciples woke Jesus, he simply “rebuked the wind and raging waters” and everything became calm.
The Sea of Galilee is in a basin surrounded by mountains. Furious storms often come up quickly. Although it is called a sea, it is actually a large lake that is just over 11 kilometres (7 miles) wide at its widest point east-west and 21 kilometres (13 miles) long from north to south. It’s deepest point is only 141 feet (43 meters).
Jesus had been preaching to the crowds all day in the area of Galilee. Mark 4:1 records that the crowds became so large that Jesus climbed into a boat and taught from it while the people crowded on the shore. Although he spent much of his time with people even Jesus needed time to be alone and time to rest. He and his disciples used the boat to sail to the other side of the lake to the region of the Gerasenes (or Gadarenes, as Matthew records).
The boat could have belonged to Peter or one of the other disciples. Peter, Andrew, James and John all came from fishing families. It would have been large enough to hold Jesus and the twelve. Usually fishing boats could be rowed or sailed.
Jesus slept soundly while a storm came upon them and increased in intensity. Things became so dangerous that the boat was swamped. There were experienced fishermen among the group. For them to wake Jesus and tell him that they were all about to drown informs us that this was indeed a terrible storm.
Isn’t it amazing that Jesus continued to sleep? Perhaps this was because he knew that this was not his time to die. John records Jesus being very aware of the timing of his life (John 7:6, 8, 30; 8:20; 12:23, 27; 13:1; 17:1). God did not send his son to die before the time was right.
Perhaps the disciples woke Jesus because they thought he could help bail out water or be ready to jump overboard if the boat went down. Their faith was not strong enough to be certain of their safety when Jesus was with them. They certainly never expected him to do what he did. He spoke to the wind and water and the storm immediately stopped.
Jesus was with God in creation when they spoke the wind and water into existence (Colossians 1:15-16). Commanding it now seems to be no problem at all.
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. Colossians 1:15-16, NIV
These men thought they might die but it wasn’t until after the storm that they were truly afraid (verse 25). They were awestruck in the presence of one who could control even nature.
Way to Introduce the Story:
Lead the class in a discussion about some of the storms you (or your students) have experienced. Talk about thunder, lightening, rain, flood, waves, etc. Talk about your feelings during the storm. Were you frightened? Discuss the fact that you could only protect yourself; you could not actually stop the storm no matter what you would have done. Today we are going to talk about some people who were in a very bad storm.
The people loved to hear Jesus speak. Sometimes huge crowds gathered to hear him. Once he was preaching by the Sea of Galilee and so many people crowded around that he got in the boat and preached to the people who were standing on the shore.
At the end of the day Jesus and his disciples said goodbye to the people and then sailed the boat out into the Sea of Galilee. Jesus was so tired that he got a cushion for a bed and then fell asleep.
Some of the other men on the boat were fishermen. They knew all about sailing on a boat. They were happy that the water was nice and calm and peaceful. They could relax. But soon things began to change. The wind began to blow and the waves pushed the boat around. Soon it all turned into a very bad storm. The waves became so big that they were filling the boat with water.
During all of the excitement there was only one person on the boat who was not worried. Guess who that was? Jesus! He was not worried because he was fast asleep.
The storm became so violent that the men began to think that the boat would sink. They thought they might all drown. They woke Jesus up and told him that they were going to drown.
Jesus saw the storm but he was not afraid at all. He looked at the waves and the water and said, “Quiet, be still!” And guess what? The storm stopped. The water became calm and the wind stopped blowing.
Jesus looked at the disciples and said, “Why are you so afraid? Where is your faith?”
The disciples were amazed. They knew that Jesus was very special. Jesus was the only one who could make even a storm obey him.
Storms are very strong but Jesus can even make storms stop. Jesus is the Son of God.
Ways to Tell the Story:
This story can be told using a variety of methods. Always remain true to the facts found in the Bible but help children connect to its meaning by using drama, visual aids, voice inflection, student interaction and/or emotion.
Click here for visual aids and story-telling methods.
Click here to download these illustrations and the slideshow. Be selective. Each teacher is unique so only use the illustrations that best relate to the way YOU are telling the story in THIS lesson. Too many illustrations can be confusing so eliminate any that cover other stories or details you do not wish to emphasise in this lesson.
- While Jesus was sleeping in a boat, what was happening all around him? There was a storm.
- What did Jesus do to the storm when he woke up? Be Quiet! Be Still!
- What happened to the storm when Jesus told it to stop? It stopped.
- Sea of Galilee Song
- My God is So Big Song
- Peace, Be Still (found in some church hymnals)
- Who’s the King of the Jungle?
- Refer to the Song Page on this website for more options.
Learning Activities and Crafts:
- Divide a large paper or chalkboard into two columns. Write “nature” at the top of one column and “Jesus” at the top of the other. Ask the children to compare the strength of nature with the strength of Jesus. There is power in nature but it does not control anything.
- Use a large blue bed sheet or tarpaulin and let the class stand in a circle stretching the sheet out. Place a toy boat in the centre of the sheet and let the children “make a storm”. You could make a game out of it with one team trying to make the boat fall off onto their side and the other trying to make it fall on the opposite side.
- Invite someone to class who has been in a really bad storm. Let them describe it to the class.
- Obtain a video containing a storm at sea. Show that portion of the tape to the class.
- Discuss the weather. Make a weather chart and let the children take it home and keep track of this week’s weather.
- Use finger paints and paint a storm.
- Help the children make wind catchers with streamers so they can wave them in the air to act out the storm scene.
Check the Teaching Ideas page on this website for ideas that are adaptable to any lesson.
Other Online Resources:
- Colouring page and worksheets about Jesus calming a storm (Calvary Curriculum)
- Video clip of artist depicting the story (3 minutes and 20 seconds) at http://youtu.be
- Craft: Boat picture at http://www.dltk-kids.com
- Cork and paper boat craft at http://www.enchantedlearning.com
- Craft: Ocean in a bottle craft at http://activitiesforkids.com