There are many ways that we might use (and/or abuse) the term “love” in today’s culture…we say we love God, sure…but we also love our families, or our favorite sports teams, or pizza! As we prepare for Easter and begin the Lenten season, we think about how much God loves us and we love Him. This lesson reminds us how reliable He is and reminds us that truly loving something means sacrifice and steadfast determination.
Lesson focus: God has made it possible for us to resist temptations to do wrong things because Jesus was tempted as a human and did not give in; our hope and love are in Christ and not in things.
Passage: Luke 4:1-13
Target Audience: Kindergarten-6th Grade (adaptable older or younger)
Materials Needed: Small candies or treats; note cards; Bibles; paper and decorative materials
Lesson Opening: Resist or insist? Start off with a “red light/green light” style activity to talk about how we can be tempted. Have all students line up on one end of the room, and instruct them to listen carefully to the statements you give. List several activities they might engage in, some positive and others tempting. Have students take a step forward with each positive choice (obeying a parent, helping a friend, reading a Bible); and move back a step if the option is not so great (taking something that isn’t mine, telling a story to get out of trouble, starting a fight with a friend). Have the students try to reach the other side of the room, but make it extra challenging with extra temptations. Once students reach the other side, provide a small treat (sticker, candy, etc.) for making it through. Then talk about what it means to be tempted. Remind students that being tempted is not a sin, as long as we do not yield. Fortunately we can resist because we know that Jesus loves us and went through temptation for our sake.
Throughout the church year, we honor and celebrate different times of the life of Jesus. At Christmas, we celebrate His birthday. Easter, of course, surrounds His resurrection. And as we prepare for Easter, we observe a time of reflection through the season of Lent. During Lent we can examine ourselves and consider what Christ did for us, how He suffered and sacrificed. We remember at this time the struggle and preparation our Lord endured…
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” -Luke 4:1-3
Note that this passage states Jesus was LED to be tempted. It was no accident that He wandered into the desert. After His baptism, the Spirit led Him into a period of trial. This time was by no means easy for Jesus as a human, but it was further proof of His oneness with the Father and confirmation that He could withstand the Devil. It is certainly no joke that just as the Holy Spirit is present, Satan is a real force and will try his best to thwart God’s plan. He does this in part by tempting God’s people to sin. This he did it in the Garden of Eden and succeeded. With Jesus, though, we have opportunity for a new story. “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22). Adam and Eve had all they could possibly ask for and yet it somehow was not enough. They were created to be perfect but fell to the idea that they could somehow be God. They sinned and destroyed opportunity for complete communion. On the other hand, Jesus was also born perfect, blameless. He was, in fact, God, yet “did not consider equality with God something to be grasped” (Philippians 2:6) and came to earth in order to undo the effects of the fall. In the desert, we see Jesus lacking in everything a human might need for survival, yet successfully enduring and resisting Satan’s attacks, on three distinct accounts.
The devil tried to prey upon Christ’s humanity by first appealing to his natural physical needs. In some ways, verse two of this passage is almost laughable. After forty days of fasting he was hungry…DUH! What human wouldn’t be? In fact Jesus could not have survived without being God. Satan first attacks His physical weakness, inviting Him to just eat something. Look at how Jesus responds in verse 4…
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’
Jesus uses Scripture, the words of His father, to stand up against the devil. He knows that food is not the only thing that sustains life and that it is more important for Him to be one with the Father. So Satan tries another approach…he uses a quote right back at the Messiah, asking Him to prove His God-hood:
The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’” -Luke 4:5-8
Once again, Jesus uses scripture to repel temptation, directly asserting that He is not going to provide tricks to show who He is. He knows He does not need to. So in one last effort, the devil tries to convince him to just give up and switch teams. He advises Him to take the easy way out. He doesn’t have to go through with the horrible gruesome death awaiting Him; just bow to the devil…
The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here.10 For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you
to guard you carefully;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time. Luke 4:9-13
Satan is a trickster. Throughout the Bible we witness His ability to influence and infect people (Eve, Jezebel, Herod, Saul, Ananias and Sapphira, Judas…just to name a few). But he cannot overcome the power of God. Jesus, being Himself God, passed the test. He knew what He came to do and withstood Satan’s schemes and lies. Now, since Christ took on flesh, this temptation (just as His violent crucifixion later) doubtless was no easy task. This makes it all the more significant. Jesus can comprehend our difficulty and aid us when tempted. We know He is reliable because He suffered, as well.
For we do not have a high priest 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. -Hebrews 4:15
Ever have the feeling that teachers should do their own assignments so they understand the torture they put their students through? Well, Jesus did the ultimate assignment first. He has been there. He knows and understands and is ready when we need Him. And because Christ overcame temptation, we can take comfort even when we fail.
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Yes, God provides a way out but as fallen creatures we do not always take it. We still fall to temptation, but our Savior did not. His defeat of Satan is the reason we can take hope and relief in what He did. We are talking a lot about love lately. It is easy for our affections to be swayed and to turn into obsessions with things that drag us away from God. As we see the temptation, we are reassured that Jesus has already taken the test for us—and passed. As we prepare for Lent, we ready our hearts for a time of thoughtfulness and put our devotion back on God and away from distraction.
Treasure of the heart…help students cut out and decorate hearts as reminders of God’s love and how He is to be #1 in our hearts. Attach a caption (“His Word is hidden in my heart…and my heart belongs to HIM!”) and/or memory verse (Luke 4:8).
Close with prayer and thanks to God for giving us Jesus and all of His blessings. Ask for strength and sincere contemplation.