Following Jesus’ baptism, the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. The account in Matthew 4 details three ways the devil tempted Jesus. Each time, Jesus defeated him by using the Word of God. As you teach this Bible story to kids, keep in mind how this story fits into the bigger story of Scripture. Here are three points to consider.
1. Satan, the tempter, wants to ruin God’s plan. Consider the lie Satan presented in the garden of Eden: “No! You will not die. In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:4-5). Satan tempted Adam and Eve to disobey God. Sin entered the world, and the perfect relationship between God and man was broken. But all along, God had a plan to rescue His people from sin through His Son. So when Jesus came to earth, Satan didn’t back down at trying to ruin God’s plan. After Jesus was baptized—beginning His ministry and effectively declaring war on Satan—Jesus was tempted.
If Satan could just get Jesus to stray from God’s perfect plan, if he could just get Jesus to sin, then Jesus would be disqualified to be the sinless Savior people needed. But Satan could not stop God’s plan.
2. Jesus came to reverse the curse. The Bible says Jesus “has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). The story of Jesus’ temptation is not so much a lesson on how to face temptation as it is a declaration of who Jesus is. He is the answer to God’s promise in Genesis 3:15 of a descendant who would crush the head of the snake. A perfect sacrifice was required to take away sin. Jesus was that perfect sacrifice. Where Adam failed, Jesus succeeded. Adam disobeyed, but Jesus obeyed perfectly. Adam brought guilt and death to the human race, but Jesus brings forgiveness and life to all who trust in Him.
3. Jesus gives us power to resist temptation. Even today, the devil works hard “to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10). Affirm that we can resist temptation. This power comes from Jesus. Without Him, we are slaves to sin. But Jesus frees us from the power of sin. Kids may struggle to understand that following Jesus won’t mean instant eradication of sin and temptation in our lives. (Sanctification is a lifelong process!) Spend time praying for the kids you teach. Pray that they would see Jesus as their greatest treasure—more valuable than any instant gratification the world has to offer.
Finally, give boys and girls hope for when they fail. Present Jesus as He truly is—a sinless Savior whose perfect obedience is credited to those who trust in Him. Remind the kids you teach that “if we confess our sins, he [God] is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). We can boldly approach God’s throne to receive grace to help us through temptation, and mercy and forgiveness when we sin. (See Heb. 4:14-16.) We have hope because Christ died for sinners.
What questions or concerns come to mind as you prepare to share this story with kids? Leave a comment below.
Here is more help for leaders preparing for the April 23, 2017 session (Unit 19, Session 6) of The Gospel Project for Kids.
Alyssa Jones has been a content editor for The Gospel Project for Kids since 2011. She lives with her husband, Nate, and their two kids in Nashville, TN. Alyssa volunteers with the kids’ ministry at Refuge Church, a church plant in Franklin, TN.