Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Significance of the Angels

Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him. (Matthew 4:11)
After three failed attempts to ensnare Jesus, the devil left, having been sent away by him. Angels came and attended Jesus, ministering to his needs, for although he is fully divine, he is also fully human — that is part of the wonder of the gospel, a mystery that even angels long to witness. Jesus was weary and hungry, much in need of rest and refreshment. So the angels came.

Though it does not appear in the NIV translation, the Greek text has the words kai idou, “and behold,” especially alerting us to this angelic ministry. Their appearance in Matthew’s narrative of the Temptation is very significant. You will recall that one of the temptations had been for Jesus to cast himself off the high point of the wall that surrounded the temple complex. The devil’s reasoning was that, “He [God] will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” He was quoting Scripture, from Psalm 91, but he was using it wrongly. The promise there is for those who take their refuge in God, not for those who follow some other way, as the devil was trying to get Jesus to do.

But now, behold, the angels did come, sent by the Father to minister to Jesus’ needs. This shows that, yes, Jesus truly took his refuge in God and was walking in his way, and God did indeed command his angels concerning him.

Angels are messengers and ministers. The Greek word for “angels” is angelos and literally means “messenger.” The purpose of these holy messengers is not only to serve God but also watch over all who trust in him. For God gives them orders concerning us to take good care of us in everything that has to do with us. The book of Hebrews teaches us that angels are “ministering spirits sent to serve those who will receive salvation” (Hebrews 1:14).

God did not abandon Jesus in this time of temptation. Neither did the angels. They were always present, though not always apparent, and they ministered to Jesus when he was in need. They will likewise be present to minister to all who follow him.