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Staying Focused (Temptation of Jesus 1)

July 21, 2010

There will be two lessons on the Temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, two on the Last Supper, and two on the Passion and Resurrection.

This lesson looks at the idea of temptation as something which distracts us from what is really important – God and what God desires for us.  It works as the first lesson of Lent, especially if you are very interested in the idea of a Lenten fast.  If that is not particularly interesting to you, you may prefer to use In the Wilderness, the second lesson on the temptation.

Things to know about this lesson:

  • I wrote it from the perspective of my Anglican tradition in which people give up something for the Lenten fast. If that is not a practice you observe, you will need to adjust some of the language but I think the lesson as a whole will still work.
  • You will need clear tape. Packing tape would be best but lots (and lots) of regular transparent tape would work too.

Staying Focused


  • cardstock
  • scissors
  • crayons/markers/pencil crayons
  • packing tape (or lots of regular transparent tape)

Open with prayer. (see tip sheet)

Introduce the Story

Can anyone tell me what a temptation is? (A temptation is something that you want to have or do even though you know it is not the best thing to have or want.)

What are things that are temptations for you – things that tempt you?

(offer your own examples to get things started, focusing on things the students can likely relate to like eating sweets instead of healthy snacks or watching television instead of doing something active)

Some temptations are more dangerous than others but all temptations distract us from what is really important – our relationship with God and trying to live the way God wants us to live.

Does anyone know what season of the church year has begun? (Lent)

Lent is the season for getting ready for Easter by asking for forgiveness for the times we give in to temptation and trying harder to not give in next time. It is kind of like cleaning the house before special guests arrive. We want our hearts and minds to be clean and focused on God so that we are ready to celebrate Easter.

In today’s story, Jesus is being tempted by the devil to make something other than God the most important thing in his life. Do you think Jesus gives in to the temptation?

Listen and we’ll find out.

Read the Story

After Jesus was baptized, the Spirit led him into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Jesus spent forty days praying and fasting – he didn’t eat or drink anything – and he was very hungry. The devil came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread so you can eat”.

But Jesus said to the devil, “The scriptures tell us that we do not only need bread to live; we also need every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

Then the devil took him to Jerusalem and stood him on the top of the temple and said, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here. After all, the scriptures tells us that ‘God will command the angels to care for you’ and ‘they will lift you up in their hands so that you do not hit your foot on a stone’”.

But Jesus said to the devil, “It also says, ‘Do not test the Lord your God’”.

Then the devil took him to the top of a very high mountain and showed him all the countries of the world with all their riches and said, “If you worship me, I will give the whole world to you”.

But Jesus answered, “Go away from me, Satan! The scriptures tell us, ‘Worship the Lord your God. Serve only God.’”.

Then the devil went away and angels came to take care of Jesus.

(Matthew 4:1-11)


What were the three temptations? (paraphrase them briefly, if necessary)

Would any of those things been tempting for you?

Did Jesus give in to the devil? (no)

That’s right. Each time, Jesus told the devil that God was more important than whatever the devil was offering. He refused to be distracted or separated from God.

One thing that many people do during Lent is give up something that tempts them. Some people give up eating candy or chocolate. Some people give up watching T.V. Some people give up drinking alcohol or coffee. None of these things are bad things to do, as long as you don’t do them too much, but none of them are important things either. Giving them up at Lent is a way to remind yourself to be careful about how you handle temptation in general.

Are you or is someone you know giving something up for Lent? What?

If you aren’t, would you like to try it? What might you give up?

Share your own choices, if applicable, but this is NOT about convincing the students to observe a Lenten fast.

Introduce the Activity

Even if you are not going to give it up, choose something that tempts you you away from God and what God wants for your life. You’re going to make a little card to remind you to stop and think about God whenever you are faced with that temptation – no matter what you decide to do about it.

Make the Cards

Distribute cardstock, scissors, and crayons/markers. Direct the students to cut out rectangles of paper about the size of business cards and decorate one side with the temptation they’ve chosen. Decorate the other side with an image of God or the words “Serve only God”.

When the decorating is finished, help the students wrap their cards in a few layers of tape (DIY laminating).


Invite students to share their cards and any thoughts about their choices.

Closing Prayer

Dear God, help us to stay focused on You so that the temptations of the world do not distract us from what is truly important. Amen.

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