Sunday, January 20 – Why Jesus?

Week #3 is Sunday, January 20, 2019 – Narrative Lectionary Story: Matthew 4:1-17


Theme: Jesus is tempted by the devil, enduring 40 days of this trial, angst and conflict. In the end he trusts in God, not the allure of the devil’s promises, giving hope to people enduring darkness every day. Why Jesus? Because Jesus is light.

Video Intro: Daniel Kuol shares his story of being a Lost Boy of Sudan. When civil war threatened his life, he left home with other boys to find life and light; first in refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya, and finally in America. Along the way he also found the light of Christ that continues to give him hope. Check it out!

Confirmation: Check out the Confirmation Material – Because Jesus is Light to go along with the video!

Readers Theater of Matthew 4 that can be used in worship instead of the regular reading.

Sunday School Curriculum: Please contact to request the curriculum from Epiphany, January 6 thru Transfiguration, March 3. BUT check out this Cross+Generational Educational Event special for Epiphany, January 6. There will be another cross+gen event for Transfiguration for March 3rd.

Music is has been written especially for the Why Jesus? Project, but here are a few suggestions:

Here are Music Selections for Each Week

Other Sermon Ideas:

  • The Existence of Evil: Maybe this is the day to name its existence – that Satan offers worldly power, riches and food in the place of what truly protects, feeds and shelters us. What distracts us from what we feel God calling us to do?
  • Jesus’ Mission Begins NOW: Blessed & baptized by God, then holding on to that relationship to face Satan in the wilderness, now Jesus can be about his vocation. Where do we draw strength to do hard things? Jesus is  “armed” for this conflict through his baptism. What is the armor we pick up for doing hard things? Do we need to create personal rituals for this? Where in the liturgy do we “arm” people for the next, hard thing? The Dismissal? Through the Prayers of the People? In the bread and wine of the Eucharist?
  • Light in the Darkness: The art below is attributed to the Jewish children of the Terezin concentration camp in World War II. Using whatever materials were at hand, they expressed their despair as well as their hope. “Sailboat” is anonymous. If light can be found in such darkness, what light shines for us now? Where do you see evidence of the light?

Sailboat - Anonymous Art

Photo Credit from Bonnie Wilcox

  • Video Idea(s): In Charlotte Bronte’s book, Jane Eyre, the heroine finds herself nearly married to Mr. Rochester, whom she discovers is already married to a woman in a terrible state of psychosis. Mr. Rochester begs her to stay and live as brother and sister, but Jane leaves the estate rather than face the temptation of a relationship that would not be recognized by society or the church. What looks life-giving may not be. The world offers what looks like goodness, is seeded with good intentions, but which is actually deceit. Check out the 2006 movie version of the book!
  • The Trolley Problem (TV’s The Good Place): This is a PG-version of the group’s discussion about challenges that are not clearly easy to solve. Sometimes our simplified theology looks for the single, correct choice. But life is complicated. Sometimes easy choices don’t present themselves. How does faith shape our moral choices? Here’s the clip!

Children’s Sermon 

Props: Blankets, flashlight

Welcome to our children’s time! The story we are going to hear today is a story about Jesus and the devil! What do you think of when you think of the devil? What does the devil look like? [Red, horns, long tail, trident.] Now, the devil doesn’t always look like that little red guy that we see in cartoons. Sometimes we don’t even know that the devil is talking to us. Sometimes it can get really dark and confusing, and we think that the things that we want are good things, and not things that would be bad for us. In our story, the devil tried to tempt Jesus with things that don’t seem so bad, but Jesus knew that what the devil wanted was for him to turn away from God and pay attention to things that aren’t really important.

What happens when you forget what is really important? Sometimes we can feel lost, or like we are in a really dark place. We are going to pretend that we are in a dark place. I want you all to sit really close together, and we are going to hide under these blankets.  (Have another adult ready to sit outside the blanket with kids who may be nervous about this activity.)

Get everyone covered as much as possible with blankets so that they are in a dark place. Continue speaking from under the blanket. Ok, we are all in this dark place. Is this a scary place? Allow answers. Maybe it’s not so scary because we are all in here together, and we know that this is just pretend. But what if you were in a dark, scary place all by yourself? That wouldn’t be good, would it? What would make it better? Allow answers. I think I would feel better, when I’m in a dark and scary place, if I had some light. Turn on flashlight under the blanket. There! Now we can all see each other, and when I turn on the light, what happens to the darkness? [It goes away.] Jesus is just like this flashlight. If we forget to look at the light and only look at the darkness that the devil wants us to pay attention to, it can get pretty scary and lonely. But when we keep our eyes on the light of Jesus, the darkness goes away and we can see all of our friends and family that are with us.  I’ll bet if we make this blanket go away, we’ll see all of our family and friends, too—what do you think? Take off the blanket. Indicate congregation. Look at all of these people out here!  When we aren’t lost in the darkness, we see all these other people that are with us, sharing Jesus’ love with us. Why Jesus? Because Jesus is light.

Let’s pray together: Jesus, sometimes we hear the devil trying to tempt us, and we forget to keep our eyes on you. All of a sudden, we look around and we are lost in the darkness. Help us to remember that you are always with us, and so are our friends and family. Amen.


What is the Why Jesus Project? Check out the FAQ on Why Jesus? Home Page.

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