Turning to Jesus! Lesson Three

A Vacation Bible School Curriculum by Barry McWilliams
an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America

Daily Theme: Faith is trusting and obeying Jesus rather than what we see.

A HARD DAY OF MIRACLES - a story from: Mark 6:30-56, Matt 14:13-36 - Feeding 5,000 and Walking on Water

Object Lesson: What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?

Study Guide:

Read and compare the accounts of Mark, Matthew, John. Are there any significant differences or additional information in them? Where does this fall in the chronology of Jesus' ministry? (note Mark 6:2-3; 6-7; 27-30.)

Several crucial events have taken place. Jesus has been rejected by the people of Nazareth - "a prophet without honor" in his hometown. John the Baptist has been beheaded after a time of imprisonment - surely creating despair among his disciples, many of who followed Jesus. Jesus has now caught wicked Herod's attention. And Jesus has progressed in his training program, sending out the disciples in pairs to begin ministering on their own.

You will note that John presents the unfolding events of this day as a pivotal time in Jesus' ministry. He alone records Jesus' discourse (sermon) on the Bread of Life. He also makes it clear that a crisis developed that resulted in the desertion of many disciples. (John 6:66) Jesus had confronted the misdirected faith of the crowds, which were seeking temporal blessings rather than eternal life. (See John 6:14,15) It was also a time of testing for the Twelve. Were they ready to live by faith rather than sight? And to trust Him rather than appearances?

Why had Jesus gone to the lonely desert?

Vs. 31. What went wrong? (33,34)

Jesus was seeking solitude and a place to pray. But the crowd followed after him, in such haste that they failed to take provisions with them.

How did Jesus react to this crowd? (34) and why?

What suggestion did the disciples make concerning the problem of supplies? What was Jesus' answer?

How much food would it take to feed the crowd? How much did they have?

How and why did Jesus put the faith of his disciples to the test? (Cf John 6:6) To those with faith, were the loaves and fishes enough?

Visualize the orderly process by which Jesus fed the multitude. The arrangement of the people in groups. The baskets full of scraps.

The feeding of the 5,000 is a misnomer because they only counted the men. The women and children present were not counted. Considering the arrangement of the people in groups, it must be an accurate count.

What negative effects did Jesus' feeding of the multitude bring about? (John 6)

The feeding of the 5,000 is recorded in all 4 gospels. Yet the miracle resulted not in mass desertion rather than a great turning to God. John 6:25-70 records Jesus discourse following this great miracle. The vast multitude, seeing how Jesus could meet their temporal needs had reacted reacted by wanting to make Jesus king by force if necessary. (6:15) They wanted to keep food coming (6:34) However they were spiritually blind to what Jesus was teaching concerning their need of eternal life and the salvation he alone could bring about. The hard teachings Jesus was teaching were too difficult to accept. Jesus links their unbelief with their turning away.

Put yourself in the the sandals of the twelve. What lessons would you have learned from this event?

Walking on Water.

Why wasn't Jesus going with the disciples in the boat. What was the situation with the disciples and Jesus at the fourth watch? What circumstances came about that prompted fear in the disciples?

The boat was 2-3 miles from land, bucking a strong head wind that often sweeps across the sea of Galilee. It is dark and a storm has developed. The fourth watch would be between 3 and 6 A.M. Rowing, their backs towards the bow, they were facing the direction Jesus was coming from. And in this frightening situation a figure looms out of the darkness like a Ghost! And unlike the previous time, Jesus is not in the boat with them to still the waves.

How did they react when they saw him? How did Jesus calm their fears?

What a picture for us! Jesus praying on the hillside, interceding for his disciples rowing into the storm. Jesus coming to them in the midst of the tempest. The Lord is with us all the time.

Peter tries to Walk on Water

What motivated Peter to try and walk out to Jesus? What caused him to sink? Had he learned the lesson of the loaves and fishes - that Jesus imparts his strength and power to his disciples.

When Peter had his eyes fixed on Jesus, he walked on water. But when he saw the wind, and was afraid, he began to sink. Jesus relates it to a small faith, and doubt.

Ponder and Comment on these verses.


What do we learn about faith and repentance from the feeding of the 5,000? From Jesus walking on water?

Faith is trusting in God rather than what we see. What are some "big, seemingly impossible" things God calls you to do? What are some examples appropriate for children.

By faith, we know Jesus is always with us, even though He may not be seen. He watches over us and can still the storms that threaten us. Think of some examples where this truth might be an encouragement to a child.

You of little faith, why do you doubt?

Jesus' miracles:

Miracles, signs and wonders When did Jesus do them? Why? When not? Why not? What did Jesus want to teach us by them?

Jesus did many miracles, not all of which are recorded for us in the Gospels.

  1. The miracles backed up his words with authority (Mark 1:22,27)
    accrediting the person and mission of Jesus (Luke 4:16-21). They were a demonstration of the power of God in Jesus over all things,
    and pictured healing and redemptive nature of the coming kingdom.
  2. In the Bible, Miracles seem to have occurred in certain crucial periods: creation, during the Exodus, in the days of Elijah and Elisha (when the true faith was dangerously threatened by Baalism); in the time of Daniel and in the days of Christ and the Apostles. Each of these were times of special revelation.

Definition: "Miracle": "an event or events in the external world wrought by the immediate power of God and intended as a sign or attestation."

Acts 2:22 uses three words:

Characteristics of Jesus' miracles:

Miracles often, where faith and repentance was lacking failed to accomplish their purpose of establishing Jesus' authority as God's Son. Jesus himself sometimes confined the working of miracles to situations where some degree of faith was already present; and often used them to strength faith in Him.

See Trench. Notes on the Miracles of Our Lord. Edersheim. The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. for more on Jesus' miracles.

© 1989 Barry McWilliams and Mission Church Fellowship,
Hypertext Version © 1996 Barry McWilliams
This Curriculum may be downloaded, copied and used by churches and other Christian organizations without charge with permission from Barry McWilliams.
Contact Barry McWilliams at eldrbarry@eldrbarry.net