The Scriptorium

Angels in His Corner

They're real, and they really do serve us. Matthew 4.11

Matthew 4: Wilderness Victory (5)

Pray Psalm 35.1-4.
Plead my cause, O LORD, with those who strive with me;
Fight against those who fight against me.
Take hold of shield and buckler,
And stand up for my help.
Also draw out the spear,
And stop those who pursue me.
Say to my soul,
“I am your salvation.”
Let those be put to shame and brought to dishonor
Who seek after my life;
Let those be turned back and brought to confusion
Who plot my hurt.

Sing Psalm 35.1-4.
(Creation: Exalt the Lord, His Praise Proclaim)
Contend, O Lord, with those who strive with me!
My shield, my strength and buckler be!
Engage with spear and axe to fight
and rescue me with all Your might!
My soul with Your salvation soothe,
and vanquish all who oppose Your truth.
Let those ashamed and humbled be
who would destroy and humble me.

Read Matthew 4.1-11; meditate on verse 11.

Prepare.
1. What did the devil do following these three attempts to get Jesus to worship him?

2. What did the angels do?

Meditate.

Knocked down three times, the devil pleads “No más, no más” and leaves the ring. He is defeated. His best punches were easily deflected, and the body blows slammed against him by the straightforward Word of the Lord have taken all the wind out of his efforts.

He is beaten. But more than that: he is bound.

I’m arrested by Matthew’s “behold”. He uses this device not only to create a sense of immediacy – putting us, as it were, right into the action – but also to emphasize what’s happening. Angels arrive to minister to Jesus. The word is were serving or even were “deaconing” Him. This activity goes on for a while (as the imperfect form of the verb suggests), and we can imagine that it involves them giving Him food and drink; bearing Him up in His weariness; and celebrating His victory over Satan. Thus, what Satan offered in each of the temptations, God now provides His Son by the ministrations of angels. And we have a front row seat!

The heavens, we can be sure, erupt in shouts, as angels stream back and forth through the veil to serve the Lord and ready Him for the next phase of His earthly sojourn. Jesus was true Man, and as such, He experienced human frailties, albeit without sin. To be tempted is not sin. When temptation comes, it’s a call to battle; and we must be ready to bring the Word of God to bear against any unrighteousness. God will honor our standing in His Word, just as He did Jesus’.

Let’s not miss the fact that angels do exist to serve the needs of God’s servants. We don’t see them, but they always stand ready to assist those who are determined to seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (cf. Ps. 104.4 and Heb. 1.7, 14). We should be greatly encouraged by this, and emboldened in our walk with and work for the Lord.

Reflect.
1. Why didn’t Satan continue tempting Jesus at this time? In what sense were those three temptations Satan’s “best shot” at Jesus?  

2. What can we learn from the fact that angels came to minister to Jesus?

3. Jesus was tempted, but He did not sin. Temptation is not sin, but when temptation comes, we will either fall through it into sin, or grow through it into greater sanctification. What do you learn from Jesus about dealing with temptation?

Luke expresses more: when all the temptation had been finished. This means, that no truce or relaxation was granted to Christ, till he had been fully tried by every species of contest. He adds, that Christ was left for a season only. This is intended to inform us, that the rest of his life was not entirely free from temptations, but that God restrained the power of Satan, so that Christ was not unseasonably disturbed by him.
John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Matthew 4.11

Let Your angels accompany and guard me today, O Lord, as I go forth to serve You by…

Pray Psalm 35.22-28.
Pray that the Lord will fight for you today as you go forth to serve Him, even to the extent of sending angels to defend you against every foe (vv. 5, 6). Shout for joy and be glad in the Lord!

Sing Psalm 35.22-28.
Psalm 35.22-28 (Creation: Exalt the Lord, His Praise Proclaim)
Stir up, O God, and wake to my right;
defend my cause with all Your might!
And judge me in Your righteousness;
let not my foes bring me to distress.
Let shame, dishonor be their gown
who would Your holy ones bring down.
Let all who would themselves exalt
be humbled, shamed, and brought to naught.

Let all rejoice triumphantly
who would our vindication see.
Let them exalt the Lord above
who love the ones that Jesus loves.
And let our tongues declare Your praise,
and worship Jesus all our days.
Let those whom You are pleased to bless
forever declare Your righteousness!

T. M. Moore

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What really happened in the wilderness? What did Jesus accomplish? Our book
Satan Bound: A Theology of Evil, can help you to understand more completely the magnitude and importance of Matthew 4.1-11. Order your copy by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from
The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore