Lent - the Temptation of Jesus: Matthew the Writer
An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive
Suitable for Whole School (Pri) - Church Schools
To consider the temptation of Jesus, as told by Matthew in the Bible.
Preparation and materials
This assembly follows on from an earlier assembly, ‘Epiphany: Matthew the Writer’, available at: http://tinyurl.com/h9hj4t8.
If you have not used the earlier assembly, you will need to adapt the first paragraph in the ‘Assembly’ below accordingly.
You will need a tunic and head-dress for an adult to play the role of Matthew, a scroll labelled ‘The Temptation of Jesus’ and a stone for Matthew to use as a paperweight.
Have available an image of the Jordan desert and the means to display it during the assembly. An example is available at: http://tinyurl.com/zogano8
As the assembly begins, Matthew should be seated at a table, pretending to write. He will tell the story as if he were writing it down. The stone paperweight should be clearly visible.
Hello, do you remember me? I’m Matthew - we met earlier this term, didn’t we? I was writing about the three wise men and old King Herod back then. Well, King Herod’s gone now, thank goodness, and Jesus has grown up and is about 30 years old. I’ve just finished my chapter about the baptism of Jesus and now I’ve got this scroll ready. Look!
Hold up the scroll labelled ‘The Temptation of Jesus’.
I’ve given a lot of thought to this chapter. I had to do some research into the old Books of Moses, too. It’s not easy writing about the Spirit of God and the enemy of God, the Devil. But Jesus knew them both. It was the Spirit of God who told Jesus to go into the desert straight after John had baptized him. No one knew where Jesus was until he came back about six weeks later. His family told me that he was really thin and weak when he came out of the desert. Just imagine: 40 days and nights without food. That’s real fasting, that is! And at the end of all that, the Devil came to tempt Jesus, and try to make him doubt that he was God’s Son.
Hold up the stone.
‘If you are the Son of God, turn these stones into bread,’ said the Devil. He knew that Jesus was starving. But Jesus answered him by quoting some words from one of the Books of Moses, which said, ‘Man cannot live by bread alone, but needs every word that God speaks.’
Put the stone down.
But the Devil hadn’t given up. Next, he said, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from the temple in Jerusalem. Go on! The angels will take care that you aren’t hurt!’
Jesus knew that doing something dramatic like that might make people follow him, but they would be following him for the wrong reasons. He wasn’t a wonder-working magician - and he wasn’t going to become one either! So Jesus quoted again from one of the Books of Moses, saying, ‘It is written: “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”’
Well, you’d have thought the Devil would have given up, but no! His voice came again. This time, he said, ‘If you kneel down and worship me, I’ll give you all the kingdoms of the world. Look!’
Jesus was on a high mountain now, and could see many kingdoms stretched out below him, but he said, ‘Go away! We should only worship and serve the Lord your God.’
After that, the Devil left Jesus and some angels came to help Jesus.
Roll up the scroll.
So that’s my ‘Temptation of Jesus’ scroll finished. You know, it reminds me of a special prayer that we often use. Can anyone tell me what prayer it is?
Yes, it’s the Lord’s Prayer, and there is a line in the prayer that says, ‘Lead us not into temptation . . .’ Many Christians all over the world pray that prayer. One day, I’d better write it down!
If appropriate, lead the children into saying the Lord’s Prayer.
Matthew goes out.
Time for reflection
This is the time of year that the Church calls Lent. It is a time when Christians think about the 40 days and nights that Jesus spent in the desert, and the time following this during which he was tempted.
We are all tempted to do wrong things sometimes. It isn’t easy to choose the right thing to do when our thoughts, or other people, try to make us do something different. We might think:
- is it really wrong?
- why shouldn’t I?
- no one will know
Let’s make the decision to stand up against things that we know to be wrong.
Please help us to say ‘no’ when we are tempted to do wrong.
Please help us to stand up for other people when we see wrong things happening to them.
Thank you that you are always with us and will give us the strength to say ‘no’.
‘Jesus, Son of God’ by Chris Tomlin (Burning Lights, 2013)