The Baptism and Temptation of Jesus

Workshop Leaders’ Bible Study

This workshop leader’s Bible study is a historical, theological, and contextual introduction to the  Baptism and Temptation of Jesus rotation of Kirk of Kildaire’s Faith Quest workshop rotation program.  It is intended to provide workshop leaders with:

·         A historical context for understanding the Bible story.

·         A Biblical context for reading and teaching the story.

·         The theological basis for the concepts to be taught to the children.

In Kirk of Kildaire’s Faith Quest program, workshop leaders attend a one-hour Bible study two weeks prior to the start of a new rotation.  This Bible study helps workshop leaders understand how the concepts to be taught to the children are derived from the Bible story and how the lessons in the rotation fit together to reinforce the concepts.  It also provides an opportunity for the workshop leaders to grow in their own faith and understanding of the Bible.

It will be helpful to have a chalkboard, whiteboard, or flip chart for writing down questions or observations during the Bible study.

Note:  This is not a comprehensive study of the text, but only a few notes to help provide context and background for workshop leaders.  Consult titles cited in the reference list at the end of these notes for more information.


Scripture:   Matthew 3:13-4:11

Memory verse for this rotation:

            “Jesus understands every weakness of ours, because he was tempted in every way that we are.  But he did not sin!” Hebrews 4:15 (CEV)


Ø      God calls us to be baptized to show we are God’s children.

Ø      The spirit of God affirmed that Jesus was the Son of God.

Ø      Although human, Jesus did not give into temptation – he was obedient to God.

Ø      Evil exists in the world.

Ø      Sometimes we are tempted to disobey God.

Ø      When tempted, we can call on God and turn to God’s word for help

Prayer Concerns & Prayer

·         If workshop leaders do not know each other, give them an opportunity to introduce each other and say which workshop they will be leading.

·         Begin the Bible study by praying for God’s guidance as teachers begin a new rotation.

Reading the text

Ask a workshop leader to read the text aloud. Ask the workshop leaders what questions came to mind as they heard the story or read it before the Bible study.  Write down any questions that arise and will need to be answered during the Bible study.


Historical, Theological, and Biblical Contexts

Background on Matthew

            Scholars believe that Matthew was written anonymously around 90 AD in Antioch by a Greek-speaking Jewish-Christian who was probably a teacher in his community (Boring, 107).  The church later attributed the Gospel to Matthew to offer legitimacy.  The Gospel was probably written " to give direction to the community in a time of transition" (Spivey and Smith, 98).  Matthew is the only Gospel to actually use the term church to describe the community of believers (Boring, 97).  It is believed that Matthew's community was a wealthy urban community that had been dealing with a great deal of transition in the Jewish faith and leadership and began to turn its mission towards Gentiles (Boring, 100).



            Matthew is a Gospel, a unique and new genre.  It is a narrative whose intention is to tell about the revelation of God in the person of Jesus Christ and to describe the community of believers who follow this Jesus.  It is a historical document in the sense that it deals with a particular person (Jesus) in a particular context (Boring, 90).



            Matthew is concerned with three main themes in his gospel.

·         The Conflict of Kingdoms and the nature of the kingdom of God:  As Eugene Boring notes we see the “kingdom of God in the present, in conflict with the evil kingdom of this age, but ultimately triumphing over it” (112).

·         The identity of Jesus Christ:  Jesus is portrayed as the divine Son of God, the new king who will inaugurate a new kind of kingdom, and the fulfillment of law and scripture.

·         The identity of the true people of God:  They are characterized by discipline and forgiveness and are sent “in mission as representatives of Christ and with His authority” (Boring, 112).


Matthew 3:13-4:11


            According to Eugene Boring, “the fact that Jesus was baptized by John is historical bedrock” (159).  Matthew, Mark and Luke all tell the story and John tells a similar story without narrating the baptism.  In Matthew, Jesus’ baptism is the beginning of his public ministry.

            Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness is also told by Matthew, Mark and Luke.  In Mark the story is brief and seems to be more a test of Jesus’ strength.  Matthew, following a different source for this story, tells of “a verbal battle between Jesus and Satan, in which the tempter tries to divert the obedient Son of God from his path” (Boring, 162).  As you may remember, an overriding theme in Matthew is the conflict between the kingdom of this world and the kingdom of God.  The battle here between Jesus and Satan sets the stage for the conflict that will carry throughout Matthew (Boring, 162).


Interesting Words/Phrases/Ideas

3:11     Jesus goes to be baptized – doesn’t meet up with John randomly

3:15     “to fulfill all righteousness” = to do God’s will as it is revealed in Scripture (Boring, 160).

3:16-17  heavens opening, spirit, and the voice from heaven were all regarded as signs of God that would appear in the end times (Boring, 160).

            God announces that Jesus is his Son.  God’s words combine the idea of the Beloved Son from Psalm 2:7 and the Suffering Servant from Isaiah 42:1.


Jesus’ baptism reflects how Christians baptisms were and are done – done in the name of Father, Son, Holy Spirit; obedience to God’s will; and a declaration that the one being baptized is God’s child (Boring, 161).


4:1       Satan/devil – name used by Matthew for “the figure that had come to represent the personalized power of evil” (Boring, 163).  Think some about the pros/cons of using terms Satan or devil.

            By submitting to temptation, Jesus is being obedient to God (Boring, 163).

4:2       Jesus fasts first to prepare but he is human so he is hungry!  The 40 days and nights remind us of Moses and Israel.

4:3       If = since  The devil takes it as true that Jesus is the Son of God.  As Boring says “the disputed issue is not whether Jesus is the Son of God, but what it means for Jesus to be the Son of God” (163).

4:4       Each time he is tempted, Jesus answers by quoting Scripture (specifically, Deuteronomy).  Here he quotes Deuteronomy 8:3.  One = human being

4:5-7    the devil quotes from Psalm 91.  Jesus quotes from Deut. 6:16

4:8-10  The mountain reminds us again of Moses.  Jesus quotes Deut. 6:13.

4:11     waited on = served food


In Matthew, the temptation story is about more than Jesus being a personal example for us.  Nothing less than “the alternative vision of what the kingdom of God on earth might be” is at stake (Boring, 166).


  • The Conflict of Kingdoms and the nature of the kingdom of God:  the temptation by Satan sets the stage for this conflict.
  • The identity of Jesus Christ:  He is named as “My Son, the Beloved” by God after being baptized.
  • The identity of the true people of God:  We do learn something about what it means to be the church.  We learn about baptism, obedience, and that as disciples we will still have to “confront demonic resistance to the gospel message” (Boring, 163).


Workshop Summaries

Ask each workshop leader to summarize his or her workshop.  As they do so, point out the concepts that each lesson reinforces.  Ask workshop leaders if they have any questions about the logistics or practical application of their lesson.

Antioch Arcarde:  The children will learn how to resist temptation the way Jesus did by playing a game that illustrates looking to Scripture for help in times of temptation.

Creation Station:  Children will create a dove decorated doorknob hanger to remind them to live in obedience of God.  In their discussion time, the children will learn that the purity, peacefulness and simplicity of the dove, in contrast to all the temptations offered to Jesus, show us what is important to God.

Good News:  The children will discuss how Jesus was tempted like us but resisted.  Through a science experiment they will explore how sometimes it is hard to tell right from wrong.

Holywood:  Children will view the video “Jesus, the Son of God” and discuss how Jesus is preparing to begin his ministry by learning about God from the temple teachers,  by committing to God in baptism, and by trusting God when tempted by evil.

Praising Puppets:  Through the skits being performed in this lesson, the children will learn about baptism, sin, the Holy Spirit and the ways that God used water throughout the Bible.  They will also perform a pretend cleansing ritual similar to one used by priests in the Old Testament.  All of this is done to explore more carefully the origins and meanings of baptism.


Review Questions

Return to the questions that were gathered at the start of the hour.  Have they been answered?  Are there any further questions about the Bible story or about the lessons?

Closing Prayer

Close the Bible study with a prayer.


Boring, M. Eugene. “Matthew.” New Interpreter’s Bible, vol. VIII. Leander Keck, et al. editors. (Nashville, Abingdon Press, 1995).  pp. 89-124 and pp. 154-166.

Spivey, Robert A. and D. Moody Smith. Anatomy of the New Testament. (New Jersey, Prentice-Hall, 1995). pp. 97-129