Choosing the easy and the hard way
When you have done the temptation of Jesus in school enough times you start to wonder what ‘angle’ you can cover next. With a broad understanding I think that we can consider whether or not Jesus chose the easy or the hard way to do his ministry, and this assembly helps children to consider that the hard way is sometimes the right way. You may need to adapt this assembly.
If there is room, have the children get themselves enough space so that they are able to perform press-ups. Don’t tell them the right or wrong way of doing a press-up. Count out ten pressups and then bring them back and settle them down. The best way of doing this is to have told them first that you want them to be sensible, what you are going to do, and then that they should come back quietly.
Alternatively if there is not enough space, have 5 children come up and do the same activity. At least one of the children at the end of 10 will cheat, or just keep going.
Once the children have settled down, ask which of them would prefer to perform easy cheat pressups, or do it the hard way. Of those who say hard, ask them why. The answer you are looking for is it will build their muscles and make them healthy, doing the easy way won’t make any difference.
Secondly, tell them a story along these lines:
Imagine your favourate football team is in the play-offs at the end of the season. If they lose this game then they will go down a division, worse than that, if that happens they will have to sell their players, and there will be no football team! It’s the end of the game, and the score is nil-nil. Your football team’s star player has the ball, and dribbles it first past one player, then another, the goal is clear. He shoots…he …doesn’t score! Suddenly one of the opposing team’s players puts his hand up and stops the ball – it should be a hand-ball but it’s not seen by the ref. The crowd goes mad, but it’s no good, the opposing players have possession and get the ball back into your team’s half, shoot and score! Your team has lost! Thing is, it would have been much harder for the opposing team to have maybe headed the ball, or taken the goal, but no, they chose the easy way. Now, which is better, the harder, or the easier way? (obviously, I hope, most children shout that they would choose the harder way because their team was cheated against)
Imagine that your teacher has told you to do some homework and you have to get the answer off the internet. You find a great resource, but you decide that the easy way is going to be to just copy and paste the answer… What should you have done and why? (The answer is you are looking for something that will help you to learn)
Point out that there is often an easy choice to make, but it isn’t always the best choice. Giving in isn’t as good as doing it the hard way for many reasons.
Go on to tell the story of Jesus tempted in the wilderness. Each time he is tempted it would be the easy way – turning stone into bread would mean not being hungry, but Jesus was concentrating on what God had to say, not his stomach; accepting Satan’s offer to do it the easy way and have everyone bow down to him; perhaps Satan thought Jesus might doubt that it was God who wanted him to do what Jesus knew he had to, so throwing himself off the temple roof would prove it, which would be the easy way.
Jesus didn’t choose the easy way, he chose the right way. And we need to look at what we do in school, the friends we choose, the choices we make, the effort we put into our work. Sometimes it is the hard way that is the best way.
Finish with a prayer asking God to help us to do the right thing.
Footnote: you could use healthy food and junk food as an alternative so one of the three suggestions here, or if time is tight just use one of the suggestions. If you still can’t find something that fits, consider the lives of children you know – what they say, think, do – and think of opposites. You should soon hit on something.