Jesus Was Tempted – Matthew 4:1-11
Our last lesson closed with that glorious moment when the heavens opened and Father God spoke audibly to His Son and those around, “This is My beloved Son; with Him I am well-pleased.” Then, the Holy Spirit came down in the form of a dove and alighted on Jesus. This scene depicted the perfect communion and joy that existed between the three members of the Holy Trinity.
The contrast between that moment of peace and joy and what follows is jarring. Matthew tells us that the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tested by the devil! What? In one verse (Matt. 3:17), we read that Jesus experienced a mountain-top experience, filled with joy and pleasure, and in the next verse (Matt. 4:1), Jesus’ mountain top experience leads to hunger, pain, and tests. This is the pattern of life, and more than that, it is the pattern of God. He blesses us, and then He tests us. Jesus tells His disciples, “In this world you will have trouble, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world” John 16:33.
Why does God allow testing and even lead us into seasons of testing? James 1:2-4 tells us that God’s tests are for our good. They develop perseverance and maturity. 2 Cor. 12:9 tells us that Jesus’ power is made perfect in our weakness. Psalms 66:10 reminds us that God’s tests are refining us like silver. If we hired a personal trainer who never pushed us to even break into a sweat, we would fire him because we know there is no gain without some pain. God wants our best more than any personal trainer. He wisely and carefully weaves together the circumstances of our lives that will lead to maturity in Him. To really believe that God is working for our good, especially when life is hard, sad and painful, requires lots of faith, but Scripture repeats that “God works everything together for good for those who love Him and who are called according to His purposes” (Rom. 8:28).
What a comfort to know that we do not have a Savior “who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet He did not sin” (Heb. 4:15). Matt. 4 gives us incredible insight into how Satan tries to take us down and how to battle temptation effectively.
Note that Satan strikes at our point of weakness. Jesus had been fasting for 40 days(!), so He was physically weak. The acronym HALT reminds us that we are weak and vulnerable when we are Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired, so be on the alert when you know you fit into any of those categories. Notice Satan’s tactics. 1) He tried to entice Jesus to use His gifts and powers to meet His own needs and to be self-focused. How often are we tempted to sin when we are self-focused? 2) He tempted Jesus right in the temple, using Scripture! Are we easily swayed when someone quotes Scripture? 3) He offered Jesus a shortcut to His ultimate goal: that every knee would bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord. Are we ever tempted to take shortcuts to goals, even worthy, God-ordained goals? Do we remember that God cares about how we do something maybe even more than He cares about final outcomes?
But, just look at the way Jesus responded at each point to Satan’s attacks! He used Scripture! He knew Scripture well enough that He could quote it back to Satan when He needed ammunition. Eph. 6:10-18 is a passage that is sometimes called “the armor of God.” It is metaphorical teaching about how to fight our enemy, the devil. What is interesting is that in this list of armor, there is only one offensive weapon listed: the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. We and our kids must be proficient in handling the Word of God. We must know it; we must be able to apply it to life situations; the Word of God must be hidden in our hearts. This is one of the main reasons we gather on Sundays – to learn how to be more proficient in handling our sword – the Word of God.
Activity – Sword Drills – (opt. coloring sheet of armor of God is available)
Help kids gain some familiarity with “their swords.” Give every child a Bible. Explain that within the one story of the Bible are 66 smaller books, contained in the one big book. It’s easier to use the Bible if you know the names of the other books and can find them. We’ll work on finding a few of the books today. Help kids see that the names of each book are printed at the top of every page.
- 1) What is the first book of the Bible? Can you find it? Have kids turn to any page in the book of Genesis and point out that at the top of each page, you see the word Genesis. It means “beginning.”
- 2) Now find the middle of your Bible. What book are you in? Usually kids will find Psalms. Help kids find it.
- 3) Explain that there are 2 main parts of the Bible – the Old and New Testaments. However, these parts aren’t the same size. The Old Testament is much longer than the New Testament. The Old Testament tells us about the beginning of the world and continues all the way through the history of the nation of Israel until 400 years before Jesus arrived. The New Testament starts with the birth of Jesus and tells the story of Jesus’ life and death and continues through the story of God starting His church. It ends with a book that describes the end of the world and the beginning of life in heaven for all believers.
- 4) The first book of the New Testament is Matthew, and here is how you can find it. Find Psalms again in the middle of the Bible. Now find the middle of the back half of the Bible. You should be in Matthew. Help every child find it.
- 5) Matthew’s book tells about the life of Jesus, but there are 3 other books that also tell about Jesus’ life. They are the 3 books right after Matthew. Can you find those books? Help kids find and say, “Mark, Luke and John.”
- 6) The very last book is called the book of Revelation, and it contains predictions of things that will happen at the end of the world, which haven’t happened yet. Can you find that book?
- 7) We just talked about 7 books of the Bible. Now, let kids practice finding them. (Genesis, Psalms, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Revelation)
- 8) Older kids opt: let kids find a few more books that are right beside the ones they just practiced (Exodus, Proverbs, Acts)
- 9) To practice using our swords, we need to not only find verses in the Bible; we need to do what the Bible says. So, let’s practice; let’s talk about what the following verses tell us.
- • Rom. 10:9 - If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
- • John 1:12 - Some people did accept him and did believe in his name. He gave them the right to become children of God.
Pause to summarize - what do these 2 verses tell us we need to do to become part of God’s family? Accept Jesus – believe in Jesus
- • John 14:16-17 - I will ask the Father. And he will give you another friend to help you and to be with you forever. 17 That friend is the Spirit of truth….He lives with you, and he will be in you.
- • John 16:13 - When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.
Pause to summarize – these verses tell us that those who belong to Jesus have a friend to help them. Who is it? The Spirit of truth! He helps us understand the Bible. Do you remember what the Bible was called in our lesson? The Sword of the Spirit! So, when you belong to Jesus, the special friend – the Spirit – helps you to use His Sword – the Bible!
- • Ps. 119:9 - How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word.
- • Ps. 119:11 - I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
- • James 4:7 - Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Pause to summarize – the Holy Spirit helps us remember to call on God when we are being tempted to do wrong. He helps us remember God’s Word and submit to God. When we resist the devil by remembering Scripture and submitting to God, the devil will flee from us. Listen to these verses from Col. 3 that can help us know how to live lives that please God.
- • Col. 3:9 - Do not lie to each other,
- • Col. 3:12 - You are God’s chosen people. You are holy and dearly loved. So, put on tender mercy and kindness as if they were your clothes. Don’t be proud. Be gentle and patient.
- • Col. 3:13 - Forgive one another if you are holding something against someone. Forgive, just as the Lord forgave you.
- • Col. 3:15-16 - be thankful…. Sing to God with thanks in your hearts.
- • Col. 3:20 - Children, obey your parents in everything. That pleases the Lord.
- • Col. 3:23 - Work at everything you do with all your heart. Work as if you were working for the Lord
Share – a time when the Holy Spirit spoke to you through God’s Word. Share how you responded and tell about the difference it made in your life.