One of those passages that is so easy to skim over. Yeah . . . yeah . . . been there, read that. I’m talking about the temptation of Jesus in Matthew 4. Pretty familiar account . . . I know who wins. Three times Jesus is tempted . . . three times the devil is repelled by the Living Word of God with the written word of God . . . game, set, match . . . lets move on. But not this morning. For some reason verse 11 put a halt on things . . . and I’m wondering about the implications of the fact that “angels came.”
Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to Him. (Matthew 4:11 ESV)
Now, I know that angels are “ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation” (Heb. 1:14). But here we’re not talking about inheritors of salvation but about the Author of Salvation. And I wonder what kind of shape Jesus the man was in when the devil finally departed.
What was the condition of Him who had fasted and subjected Himself to the wilderness for those 40 days and 40 nights before encountering the serpent? To be sure, Jesus would have been physically spent from the deprivation of food as well as weathering the elements.
But, beyond that, what was the toll from His encounter with Satan? Was it just a “war of words” between the two, or was there more? When it says that “the devil took Him” (4:5, 8), did the dark embodiment of sin actually manhandle the holy Son of God? Did the roaring lion who goes about seeking to devour someone (1Peter 5:8) lay hands on the Lamb of God? And if so, I can’t imagine that the serpent would have gently transported the One who would bruise his heel as he set Him on the pinnacle of the temple or took Him to that high mountain overlooking the kingdoms of the world.
What was it for the Holy Son of God to subject Himself to the enemy of His kingdom? What was His condition that it was necessary that angels came?
I’m thinking the answers to the questions are less important than realizing afresh the depths of experience and suffering the Savior endured that He might be the pure, undefiled sacrifice for my sin. That because He won, through His substitutionary death for me, I win too.
The speculation of what happened in the wilderness is just that, speculation . . . but what I do know is that “because He Himself has suffered when tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted” (Heb. 2:18) . . . and that “we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15).
Angels came . . . and ministered to the Son of God. For sure they fed Him . . . I’m guessing that they may have brought some heavenly electrolyte drink . . . but was there more . . . were there wounds to tend to? I don’t know.
But I am reminded this morning of the depths my Lord went to in order to secure and sustain my salvation.
And so, like those angels, I too come . . . not too minister to Him . . . but to worship Him . . .
To Him be all glory . . .