In this lesson, we will study the account of Jesus calming the storm. This lesson relates to pre-teens and teens, and by the end of this lesson, they should have learned about the following:
- Jesus has all authority.
- Everyone faces storms.
- Faith vs fear.
BIBLE PASSAGE: Mark 4:35-41
MEMORY VERSE: “He (Jesus) awoke, and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” The wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” Mark 4:39
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BIBLE STUDY NOTES FOR TEENS
The account of Jesus calming the storm is in three of the gospels. Matthew 8:23-27, Mark 4:35-41, and Luke 8:22-25. They each give us a different perspective of the same event.
BACKGROUND OF THE STORY
Jesus’s earthly ministry continued to grow, and more and more people came to hear Him preach. At the beginning of Mark 4, Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd gathered around Him was so large that He got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake while all crowd listened from the water’s edge.
He spent the day teaching them many things through parables, such as the parable of the Sower, the lampstand, the growing Seed, and the Mustard Seed.
By the evening, Jesus recognized it was time for a break and told His disciples to set sail to the other side of the lake and leave the crowds behind.
Those of Jesus’ disciples who were fishermen knew this lake well. But they probably didn’t expect the storm. The Sea of Galilee is about 13 miles (21 km) long and 8 miles (13 km) wide. It is one of the lowest-lying bodies of water in the world at almost 700 feet below sea level. Surrounded by mountains that rise to about 2,000 feet above sea level on the eastern side, it creates a funnel for the wind resulting in rapid and fierce storms.
1. TROUBLE DOESN’T MEAN DISOBEDIENCE. (v35)
Storms in life often hit us suddenly and without warning. Our natural reaction is to question “why?”.
Sometimes people will tell you that you are facing storms in your life, family, relationships, education etc. because you’ve done something wrong. We do see God using storms in the Bible (think about Jonah) to bring people back onto the right path. Yet, storms are certainly not always a result of disobedience.
In fact, this storm did not hit the disciples because they were disobedient but because they had been obedient! Jesus commanded them to “go over to the other side.” Furthermore, it is often the case that the more we obey, the more we are attacked.
This storm hit those with Jesus in their boat and those without Him on the sea.
Having Jesus with us doesn’t make us immune from what’s happening around us. We still have the worries of war, pandemics, financial pressures, peer pressure and so on. We face the same storms, but how we face them changes when we have Jesus with us.
2. DON’T FORGET JESUS IN THE STORM. (v38)
Several of the disciples were fishermen. They were used to being at sea in bad weather. Matthew, the collector, probably started to panic when the storm began while Peter, Andrew, James, and John told him not to worry. The fishermen could handle the boat until they couldn’t, and they, too, were afraid for their lives.
How often do we try to handle things ourselves rather than bringing the situations to Jesus? We can easily trust in our own skills, strength and abilities while forgetting that Jesus is in the boat with us.
The disciples did all they could until they panicked and turned to Jesus. In those moments, they totally focused on the storm. They don’t ask Jesus to calm the waves or get them to safety to the other side. They should have realized that Jesus had power over all circumstances, but they still panicked. The only woke Him to ask, “Don’t you care if we drown?”
Like the disciples, storms often reveal our distorted view of God. The bigger we make the storm, the smaller we make God. Our distorted view of the problem clouds our trust in Jesus.
The sooner we turn to Jesus in the storm, the better. We need to stop struggling along and invite Him to show His power, authority, and perfect plan.
3. JESUS SHOWS HIS BOTH NATURES (v39)
Jesus is one person with two natures: a divine nature and a human nature. Jesus is both God and man.
This passage gives us a wonderful picture of this truth. Like everyone on earth, Jesus needed rest. After travelling around the land, healing people, and teaching the crowds the whole day, we find Jesus sleeping on the boat. This shows us His earthy nature.
Yet, when the disciples wake Him, Jesus rebukes the wind and the waves, and they stop. Jesus shows His divine control over nature by doing something only God can do.
Throughout Jesus’ ministry, we see Jesus faced the same struggles and temptations as us. He was tired, thirsty, hungry, hurting, betrayed and much more, yet He faced each trial in obedience to His Father and trusted in His perfect plan.
4. CHOOSE FAITH OVER FEAR (v40)
The disciples were in the same storm as Jesus. The waves were the same force. The wind was the same strength. The chance of capsizing was the equal, yet their reactions were very different. The disciples chose fear. Jesus chose faith.
Today we have plenty of opportunities to choose faith over fear. The world is full of people, including believers who see the world as falling apart and choose fear. The world is in a terrible state, but we can have hope in God and confidence in His promises.
We are all prone to worry at times, but we can be sure that God is with us, even in the middle of a storm. He will never leave us or forsake us. Jesus may have questioned the disciples on their faith, but He worked a miracle and calmed the storm despite their lack of faith. Sometimes, the best we can pray is “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)
God is always at work in our lives, whether we recognize it or not. He promises us in Romans 8:28 He will cause everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.
Jesus had told the disciples they were going to cross to the other side, but they forgot or doubted in the middle of the storm. We must never forget that God is in control no matter how big the storm gets or messy the world becomes.
Storms in life can be scary, and not knowing how to handle them makes them worst. It may feel like you’re going to drown, but you can trust in Jesus. Shifting our focus from the storm and onto Jesus builds a deeper confidence in His promises.
YOUTH GAMES AND ACTIVITIES
EMPTY THE BOAT
- Make a circle in the middle of the room as the boat. Scrunch up old pieces of paper into balls.
- One or more players must go into the boat, while the other players try to throw the pieces of paper into the boat area.
- It is the goal of the people in the boat to get the paper out as much as possible. Reflect on how the disciples would have tried to scoop the water out of the boat to stop it from sinking.
THROUGH THE STORM
- Create a course using masking tape or ropes.
- Blindfold one player and put them at the starting point. They must make their way through the course and out the other side without crossing the tape.
- Another player or leader should give them directions.
- See which player can make it the furthest through the course or complete it the fastest.
- Talk about how it can be difficult to see where we are going in the middle of life’s storms, and how important it is that we listen carefully to Jesus.
WIND VS WAVES
- Create two teams – Team wind and Team Wave
- Sit each team on opposite sides of the room.
- Mark a grid with 5 steps on either side as showing in the picture. Place a boat in the middle.
- Set challenges for the team such as a quiz question, draw or act out something from the passage and so on.
- When ever a team wins a point, the boat moves closer to them.
- At the end of the game, the team with the boat on their side wins.