Matthew 4:1-4, NIRV
Jesus Is Tempted in the Desert
4The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the desert. There the devil tempted him. 2After 40 days and 40 nights of going without eating, Jesus was hungry. 3The tempter came to him. He said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
4Jesus answered, “It is written, ‘Man must not live only on bread. He must also live on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Deuteronomy 8:3)
Lenten Coin Calendar. (You can also have extra copies available for children who need them, as well as directing them to download the calendar here.)
Were you here for our Ash Wednesday service? Have you started collecting coins? All the items we found around our homes this week had to do with lighting. We need to be able to see, and light helps us when we are in dark places.
Have you ever been in the dark and turned the light on? It immediately helps remove our feelings of being scared and afraid, doesn’t it? (Allow children to answer.)
We pray today, thanking God for the gift of light. Pray for those who live in darkness.
All of us need the gift of light.
Today I wonder, “Have you ever been so hungry that your stomach growled loud enough for someone other than yourself to hear?” (Allow children to respond.)
It seems that I have asked a strange question of you during a church service, haven’t I? (Allow children to affirm.)
It may seem that this question doesn’t make much sense, but it does relate to Jesus and today’s scripture passage.
Today’s passage from Matthew’s Gospel finds Jesus spending forty days and forty nights in the desert praying. He was fasting. That means that the whole time Jesus was praying alone in the desert, he didn’t eat. Raise your hand if you think Jesus was hungry. (Allow children to respond.) That’s right, Jesus was so hungry that even rocks in the desert looked good enough to eat. Jesus had been in the desert for a long time praying and talking to God.
In this passage from Matthew, the tempter noticed how hungry Jesus had become. And now, he wanted Jesus to turn those rocks into bread. The tempter came to Jesus and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Give me a thumbs up, if you think Jesus could turn the hard stones into soft, warm, tasty bread. (Allow children to respond.) That would surely make Jesus’ stomach stop growling.
Give me a thumbs down, if you think Jesus listened to temptation and turned the stones into bread. (Allow children to respond. That’s right. Jesus knew that he should obey God and not listen to temptation. He also knew that talking to God through prayer was even more important than eating. Most importantly, he didn’t have to prove to anyone that he was God’s Son.
Jesus’ response, “It is written, ‘Man must not live only on bread. He must also live on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Jesus knew that God protected him always. The tempter tried two more ways to get Jesus to follow temptation, but none of them worked. After the tempter realized that Jesus wasn’t going to listen to him, he left.
By this time, Jesus was exhausted. He was so exhausted that he collapsed on the ground. At that moment, God was so proud of Jesus’ obedience, that God sent angels down from heaven to comfort and take care of Jesus.
When temptation came and tried to get Jesus to do something bad and wrong in the eyes of God, Jesus refused. He didn’t give in to temptation. The next time you are tempted to do something that you know you really shouldn’t do, be like Jesus. Do what you know is right.
Obey God instead.
This week on our Lenten Coin Calendar, we are going to search our homes for things that help fill our bellies. Food items can help make our stomachs stop growling in hunger. What about other people’s stomachs that are hungry? By collecting coins, we can help those who are hungry.
God of comfort and protection, the next time we are hungry, use the sound of our stomach growl as a reminder to pray to you and to give you thanks for always being present in our lives. The next time we feel that we are tempted, remind us of your care and love for each of us and give us the strength to refuse temptation. Always help us to do the right thing in your eyes. We give you thanks for Jesus, who showed us how to obey you in all things. Amen.