Use this children’s Sunday School lesson about the temptation of Jesus to teach kids how Jesus overcame the devil’s temptations.
Intro Activity: Peer Pressure Playacting
Have students form groups of three. Give them a few minutes to think of how to act out a scene in which one or two of them pressure the other(s) to do something wrong, but then, the person resists them. Tell them to be creative in how they might say no to someone who’s trying to get them to do something wrong. Then, all the groups perform their scene for the class.
You can allow them to think of their own scenarios or give them cue cards to base their scene on. Ideas include Smoking, Drinking, Doing drugs, Stealing, Lying, Making fun of someone, Cheating, Cursing, Telling a Dirty Joke, and Watching a TV Show they Shouldn’t.
Explain that sometimes, the devil uses other people tempt us to do wrong things.
Ask students, How many of you have ever done something wrong?
Does anyone know what we call it when we feel like we want to do something wrong?
When we feel like we want to do something wrong, that means we’re being tempted.
Jesus was also tempted to do some wrong things. He never did the wrong things, but He was tempted to.
(Read Matthew 4:1-4.)
“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, He was hungry. The tempter came to Him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.’
“Jesus answered, ‘It is written: “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”’”
What did the devil tempt Jesus to do? (To turn rocks into bread so that He could eat it.)
Jesus had fasted for 40 days and forty nights. He hadn’t eaten anything for 40 days. Then, the devil came and tempted Him to make rocks into bread because he knew that Jesus was really hungry. The devil knew that Jesus would want food. And the devil knows what we want, too. That’s how he knows what to tempt us with.
What would be wrong about Jesus turning rocks into bread?
Jesus would be using His powers for Himself, but God wanted Jesus to trust God to give Him food. God wants us to trust Him. Jesus knew that it was more important to do what God wanted Him to do than to make bread for Himself.
(Read Matthew 4:5-7.)
“Then the devil took Him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. ‘If you are the Son of God,’ he said, ‘throw yourself down. For it is written: “He will command His angels concerning You, and they will lift You up in their hands, so that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.’’
“Jesus answered him, ‘It is also written: “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”’”
What did the devil tempt Jesus to do here?( To jump off the roof of the Temple.)
The devil said that God would send the angels to catch Jesus if He jumped. But if Jesus did that, He would be showing off. He would be showing off that He could jump off the roof and have angels catch Him. But God doesn’t want us to show off because that’s bragging about what we can do and God doesn’t want us to do that.
(Read Matthew 4:8-11.)
“Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. ‘All this I will give You,’ he said, ‘if You will bow down and worship me.’
“Jesus said to him, ‘Away from me, Satan! For it is written: “Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.”’
“Then the devil left Him, and angels came and attended Him.
What was the third thing the devil tempted Jesus to do? (The devil said he would give Jesus everything in the world if Jesus would worship the devil. )
Did Jesus do it? (No.)
Because who is the only one we’re supposed to worship? (God.)
Jesus knew that we’re supposed to worship only God. God is always most important. No matter what someone else can give you, God is more important because God made you and God can make you live forever in Heaven. No one else can make you, and no one else can make you live forever.
Did you notice what Jesus kept saying after all the times the devil tempted Him? He kept saying, “It is written,” and then, He would say a Bible verse. Jesus was able to resist the devil’s temptations because Jesus knew what the Bible said. He knew what the right things were that God wants us to do. And that’s why we have to learn about the Bible. We need to read the Bible so that we can know what God wants us to do and so that we can resist the devil’s temptations.
Game: Resisting Temptation
Divide students into two teams for a slightly modified game of Red Rover. The teams line up facing each other on either side of your play area. They link hands with the students next to them.
You’ll call the name of one of the students on Team A. That student must then break away from his team and try to break through the linked hands of two members of Team B. If that student breaks through, they get a point for their team. If Team B resists the charging student, Team B gets a point.
Next, call a student from Team B to try to break through Team A’s line.
Play as long as time permits, alternating which team is charging and which is defending.
At the end, explain to students that a member of the opposite team is like a temptation trying to get into our hearts. The devil sends temptations toward us all the time because he wants us to do something wrong. But we have to be strong and resist those temptations. We can’t let them break through.
Game: Sword Drill
Give each student a Bible. Then, call out the name of one of the books of the Bible. The student who finds that book first wins. To make it a little more difficult, you can call out the chapter and verse of a book or the name of a Biblical person or event.
Remind students how important it is to read and study the Bible on their own so that they can know it well.
Lord, help us always to stay focused on You so that we can resist the devil’s temptations. Help us to read and study Your Word so that we can know what You want us to do. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
You can also find this lesson for Kindle or in print in my book, Jesus Starts His Work.