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In the Wilderness (Temptation of Jesus 2)

July 28, 2010

This lesson asks students to spend some time thinking about the setting of Jesus’ temptation, rather than the concept of temptation itself.  If you are not going to emphasize the idea of a Lenten fast, this is probably a better first lesson on the story.

Things to know about this lesson:

  • You will need to print copies of wilderness pictures.  You can choose to give students some selection or to simply make them all pictures of the Palestinian desert.

In the Wilderness


  • photocopies of wilderness pictures (downloadable pictures to come)
  • plain paper or construction paper
  • scissors
  • crayons/markers/pencil crayons
  • glue sticks

Open with prayer. (see tip sheet)

Introduce the Story

If this is your first Lenten lesson, you may want to refer to the introduction of Staying Focused. If not, you may still want to refresh students’ memories with something like the following:

Who knows/remembers what church season we are in? (Lent)

What is Lent for? (Getting ready for Easter, thinking about God, thinking about temptation, trying to live right)

In today’s story, Jesus goes to the wilderness to pray and think about what God wants from him. He spends 40 days and nights there – did you know that Lent is 40 days long, too? We should use Lent the same way Jesus used his 40 days in the wilderness .

Pay attention to the story and see if you can hear what Jesus did.

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)


Why did Jesus go to the wilderness? Who took him there?

What did he do there? (fasting and praying)

(If necessary, you could re-read the first paragraph)

Does anyone know what fasting is? (giving something up for a period of time, like Lent – sometimes people choose to give up eating for a little while)

Why do people do it? (as a way to pray and to focus, to get ready for the work God has for them)

But why would Jesus go to the wilderness to do that? What is wilderness, anyway? (if they don’t know the word wilderness, explain that it’s places in nature where there are no people or towns or roads and that it can be dangerous)

Have you ever been out in nature without very many people around? How did it feel?

How would it feel if you were completely alone and very far from people or the things we make like roads and towns? Do you think that’s how Jesus felt? If not, how did Jesus feel? Why would he feel differently

In our story today, Jesus is in the wilderness of Palestine. Palestine is very different from Canada. The wilderness Jesus goes to is a desert wilderness – a very dry place that gets very hot in the day and very cold at night. Not very much grows there because it is so dry. (Show a picture)

Introduce the Activity

We are going to make pictures that remind us that Jesus is with us all the time, even when we feel all alone and scared in the wilderness. You can choose what kind of wilderness to use for your picture.

Let the students choose which wilderness picture to use as their base. (downloadable pictures to come)

Drawing the Desert

Distribute the plain or construction paper, crayons, and scissors. Direct students to draw and cut out pictures of themselves, Jesus, the Spirit, etc. to glue onto their base wilderness picture. If they have more time, they can colour the wilderness picture, too.


Invite students to explain their pictures and their reasons for choosing the wilderness they used, if applicable.

Closing Prayer

Dear God, thank you for the wilderness. Thank you for time to think and pray and get ready to do the things you want us to do. Help us follow Jesus’ example this Lent. Amen.

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