Use this free Sunday school lesson on how Jesus calms the storm on the Sea of Galilee from Kids-Own Worship to teach children that Jesus takes care of us. Find more great Sunday school lessons to help kids grow in their faith.
The account of Jesus calming the storm provides a starting place for many people who need assurance of God’s control over forces that seem out of their own control. The disciples in the sinking boat faced overwhelming fears. But when Jesus so quickly calmed the storm, their fears were quickly replaced with awe and worship.
Many of us—especially children—carry the burden of fear, perhaps not realizing that we can run to Jesus for safety. But Psalm 91 tells us that a person “who dwells in the shelter of the Most High…will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day.” As we present our fears to our heavenly Father in prayer, we, too, can be assured of the comfort that comes from trusting the one who loves us and who has the power to protect us in all circumstances. Let us thank and praise Jesus, who has the power to calm our fears!
Sunday School Lesson: Jesus Calms the Storm on the Sea of Galilee
Scripture: Mark 4:35-41
Theme: Jesus takes care of us.
Weaving Faith Into Life: Kids will praise Jesus for his loving care in their lives.
Bible Background for Leaders: Mark 4:35-41
Jesus’ suggestion to go to the other side of the Sea of Galilee sounds to us like a simple procedure. However, several factors made such a journey difficult. First, few inhabitants of the west side of Galilee ever ventured to the east side. That side was inhabited mostly by non-Jews who worshipped a variety of gods, which naturally made God-fearing Jews uncomfortable. Second, the boats Jesus’ disciples used were small fishing boats. They were not intended for traversing the middle of the lake, which was 14 miles long by 8 miles wide. And finally, the geography surrounding the lake made it susceptible to sudden storms that could turn a calm lake into a violent sea.
Note that Jesus and his followers weren’t all in one boat, though that is a common perception. Many lives were at stake when a furious storm arose. However, many of the disciples were experienced fishermen and expert sailors. So one might expect that they would handle things on their own. The fact that they turned to Jesus for help likely meant that they were at the end of their means—they had tried everything they knew to combat the storm and had failed. At the point of pure desperation, they woke Jesus with screams of terror.
When Jesus awoke, he immediately demonstrated that he was in control. There was no hint of worry or concern in his words. He simply said, “Quiet!” He then said, “Be still,” a term that literally means “muzzle yourself and continue to be silent.”
We have the benefit of knowing how the story of Jesus’ calming the storm ends. But imagine the disciples’ amazement when the raging waves instantly became calm. Even today, with our advanced technology, we don’t have any control over the weather and can’t always forecast it very accurately. In Jesus’ day, controlling the weather was known strictly as the domain of God. In the instant the storm ceased, the disciples began to realize more fully who Jesus was. He had demonstrated his power in healing people, but never before had he done anything of this magnitude.
Jesus then asked some pointed questions. He seemed surprised that the disciples’ faith was so weak. After all they had seen, they hadn’t fully grasped who Jesus was or what he was capable of. But now they had seen something so powerful, so awesome, that they were terrified to think about who Jesus really was.
The disciples’ terrified response is understandable when we consider God’s power and purity in light of our own weakness and imperfection. But the disciples came to learn that no matter how bad a situation seemed, the first thing they needed to do was turn to Jesus.
Oil and Water: Gather a 12-ounce clear plastic cup and two small paper or foam cups for every four children. Put 2 inches of white vinegar in each clear cup, 1 tablespoon of baking soda in one of the small cups for each group, and 1 tablespoon of cooking oil in the other small cup for each group.
Pop Goes the Fear: Inflate 8 to 10 large balloons, and set them aside in a trash bag. On a table, place a felt marker and a piece of cardboard through which you’ve pushed a few straight pins.
1: Let’s Praise God!
Play music as children arrive. Ask some children to stand at the door and welcome everyone who comes into the room. Ask the greeters to smile, shake hands, and say, “Welcome!”
When everyone has arrived, Say: Think for a moment about some of the great things God can do. If you have one great thing you want to share with us, put your hand in the air. When you see me point to you, stand up, shout it out, and sit back down. Allow time for several children to share.
Say: We have just heard about how great God is. Let’s give God a hand for his love and care.
Lead kids in an “offering” of applause.
Say: Jesus is Lord of the entire universe. That means he’s God and he’s in control of everything. Jesus cares about each one of us. We can go to Jesus anytime we’re afraid, no matter what causes the fear. And we can know that Jesus will take care of us and comfort us. Jesus truly is our Lord and our King.
Say: Whenever a king passes by, he is greeted with a salute. We’re children of the King, so we can greet each other in the same way. Greet at least five of your neighbors with a salute.
Give kids time to greet at least five neighbors with a salute.
Say: Jesus has proven himself to be faithful and true, someone we can always trust for every need. That’s because he loves us so much. As we sing this next song, praise God with all your heart because there is nothing too big for Jesus to handle.
Say: Raise your hand if you’ve ever been afraid. I see that just about all of us have been afraid at some time. The Bible tells us that God wants to protect us and keep us safe even when we’re scared and anxious, which is another way of saying worried or afraid. Let’s see what scared, worried, and anxious look like. If you think you can put a scared look on your face, show your neighbor your scared face. (Pause.) Now show your neighbor an anxious or worried face. (Pause.)
God wants to take away those scared and worried looks and give you calm and peaceful faces. Now put on a calm, peaceful face. (Pause.) You look great—just the way God wants you to look all the time. And you can look that way by believing that God will never leave you—even when things are scary. Promises in God’s Word tell us that God will never leave us. Here are two promises, which we are going to say together in a marching chant. Listen to my lead, and repeat each line back.
God’s Promises Chant
Leader: “Do not be afraid,” God says. (March in time to the chant.)
Echo: “Do not be afraid,” God says.
Leader: “For I am with you always.” (Keep marching and cross your arms on your chest.)
Echo: “For I am with you always.”
Leader: “Cast all your anxiety” (put your fists together as in a fishing cast)
Echo: “Cast all your anxiety”
Leader: “On me, for I care for you.” (Place your hands on your shoulders.)
Echo: “On me, for I care for you.”
Leader: God’s Word (hold your hands open to indicate a book)
Echo: God’s Word
Leader: Says this. (Point a finger outward.)
Echo: Says this.
Leader and Echo: God’s Word says this! (Pause.) Says this!
Say the chant together at least twice.
Using the Bible to Cast Out Fear
Say: The Bible is a great place to go when we’re afraid. The Bible includes many promises from God that tell of his love and protection. There are stories that show Jesus calming the fears of his friends. The Bible has something for everyone, but it’s important to take the time to sit down, read it, and think about what we’ve read.
Reading the Bible is like sitting down to a delicious, nutritious meal. The food makes our bodies healthy and strong. God’s Word does the same thing for our spiritual selves. Sing this next song to remember that God never wants us to go spiritually hungry. That’s why he gives us the Bible. God’s love for you and me goes deeper than any ocean or lake. It goes higher than any planet or star. That’s why we can count on God’s love night and day. Sing this next song to Jesus with thankful hearts because he has been so good to us.
Pray: Dear God, thank you for being a safe place to go when our fears and worries seem so much bigger than we are. Help us to remember that you are creator of the universe and that nothing is too big or too hard for you. In Jesus’ name, amen.
2. Let’s Learn the Point!
Have children form two separate groups with enough space between them that you or another leader can pass between the groups.
Say: Today’s Bible story comes from the book of Mark and tells us about a time Jesus was on a boat with his disciples. As I tell you this story, one group will help by making the sounds of the sea as a giant storm comes through. The other group will pretend to be the frightened disciples.
Show each group its role, and allow groups to practice.
- Group A (the sea)—Kids will sit and rock from side to side, chanting, “Swoosh, swoosh, swoosh.” Their chanting should gradually grow in intensity and then stop abruptly on cue.
- Group B (the disciples)—Kids will put their hands on their cheeks and cry out, “Oh me, oh my! We’re all gonna die!”
Say: When I give you the signal by pointing to your group, you will act out your part of the story. Listen and watch for your part.
The Story of Jesus Calming the Sea of Galilee
Say: One night after a long day of preaching to the people, Jesus decided to get into a fishing boat with his disciples and go across a sea to the other side. Leaving the crowd behind, Jesus and his friends got into the boat. Point to Group A. When they had sailed to the middle of the sea, a storm began to kick up waves. Point to Group A. The boat rocked back and forth and up and down over the waves. The storm grew stronger and more furious. Group A should be getting louder now.
Jesus had fallen asleep almost as soon as the boat left the shore. Even though the sea was tossing the boat around, he was still asleep. But his disciples were beginning to get really afraid. Point to Group B. They tried lowering the sail and throwing out the anchor, but nothing worked. Point to Group B. They bailed out the water, but still the storm raged. The boat was close to sinking. Point to Group B.
Finally, they couldn’t stand it any longer. Jesus was still sound asleep, so they woke him up. They said, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” Point to Group A and Group B.
With that, Jesus stood up in the boat and shouted out, “Quiet! Be still!” Signal for everyone to be quiet. The storm died down, the waves grew calm, and the boat Jesus was on stopped sinking.
Jesus looked at his disciples, who were now soaking wet and shaking with fear. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Didn’t you believe that I would take care of you?”
The disciples were no longer afraid, but they were amazed. They turned to each other and asked, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
Debriefing the Bible Story
Have kids applaud themselves for acting out the story so well.
Say: What an exciting day that must have been for the disciples—first to be caught in that terrible storm and then to see Jesus take control of the weather and change it with only his words.
Have kids form trios to discuss these questions.
- What do you think the disciples were most afraid of?
- How did Jesus calm the storm?
- How did Jesus calm the fears of the disciples during the storm?
- What fears do you have?
- Can Jesus calm your fears? How do you think he does that?
Have volunteers report their trios’ discoveries to the entire group.
Say: Jesus is the Son of God, creator of the universe. We can count on him to calm the storms in our lives. When a fear seems to take hold of us, we can call out to Jesus in prayer and know that he hears us just as he heard the disciples’ cries for help.
3. Oil and Water
In this activity, the kids will be mixing materials to create a harmless chemical reaction. This activity can be messy, so be prepared with towels. Set out the supplies you prepared before class.
Have kids form groups of four. In each group, assign two children to be in charge of materials. They’ll be responsible for getting the materials. The other two kids will be in charge of cleanup. They’ll make sure all items are put away after the experiment.
Say: Let’s try this experiment to see what happens when we let Jesus take care of our fears. Let’s pretend that the clear cup represents you. The white powder represents the things that scare us. The oil in the other cup represents Jesus.
One person in your group will sprinkle the white powder into the large cup. While you watch what happens, think about how you feel when you’re scared. Then have another person in the group pour in the oil. Watch what happens and think about Jesus. Ready? Go ahead.
Have kids try the experiment. After everyone has experienced the fizz of the baking soda and vinegar and the calming effect of the oil, invite volunteers to share their reactions.
Why do you think people get scared?
- Is it wrong to be scared? Why or why not?
- How was this science experiment like the way Jesus calms our fears?
- What happens when we let Jesus deal with our fears?
- Why do you think Jesus doesn’t want us to be afraid?
Say: Jesus loves us more than we can imagine. He wants us to feel safe and secure. Jesus calms our fears because of his love. Whenever we’re afraid, we can ask Jesus to be with us, to comfort us, and to calm us. Jesus will be with us just as he was with the disciples when they were scared.
4. Pop Goes the Fear
Be careful when doing this activity with young children. Keep them away from the straight pins and balloon pieces for safety. To avoid choking hazards, be sure to pick up pieces of any broken balloons promptly. Balloons may contain latex.
Bring out the balloons and the cardboard with pins you prepared before the session.
Say: We’ve seen from the things Jesus said and did for his disciples when he calmed the storm that he desires to protect us from fearful situations. What fears do you have? If you would like to share a fear, I’ll write it on one of the balloons.
Use the felt marker to write on balloons several things kids say they’re afraid of. Then set the balloons aside. When each balloon has been labeled, show children the piece of cardboard with the straight pins. Set the cardboard on the table so the pins stick up.
Say: Think of these pins as being like Jesus. Our fears are written on the balloons. Let’s see what happens when the fears get close to Jesus.
Drop one of the balloons onto the pins so the balloon pops.
Say: Jesus has the power to destroy our fears just as a pin can destroy an inflated balloon. As each balloon pops, let’s praise God for destroying our fears with his Word.
One by one, drop the balloons onto the pins. As each balloon pops, lead children in thanking God for his power and love.
- How are these pins like the way Jesus takes care of our fears?
- Would a smaller or larger balloon have the same results? Why do you think so?
- Are there any fears that may be too big for Jesus? Explain.
Say: Jesus’ power and love are not limited by the size of our fears. He created us and everything else in the universe. There is nothing too great or too small for him to handle.
5. Let’s Pray!
Have children sit in a circle on the floor.
Say: Let’s celebrate God’s love and care with a balloon offering! First, we’re going to worship God by giving to him. God has given us so much. Let’s thank him with our gifts of money. Pass around the offering.
Pray: Dear God, please accept these gifts. We know that you can do all things, including taking away our fears. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Pass around the uninflated balloons, and have each child take one. Distribute permanent markers, and have children carefully write their names on the balloons. Make sure older children help any children who need help writing their names.
Direct the children to blow up their balloons and hold the ends tightly. Have older children blow up balloons for younger children. Explain that, all together, children will thank God for releasing them from fear and will then release their balloons. Lead children in thanking God and let children release their balloons.
Say: We have an opportunity right here to hear the Lord. We can imagine that we are in Jesus’ boat on the rough and stormy Sea of Galilee. Like the disciples, we have fears of our own which Jesus can calm.
One by one, we’ll each call out a fear; you can use one word or a whole sentence if you want. Then we’ll all whisper the words Jesus used to calm the storm: Quiet! Be still!
Begin, and continue until every child who wishes to participate has done so.
Pray: Almighty God, you have calmed our hearts and given us peace. For this we thank you. As you remind us each day of your love and care, help us to listen. Amen.
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