Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.
When we think about how Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, we remember that our Lord remained utterly obedient to His Father, and that the devil was defeated by Jesus speaking and living the true Word of God. But how many of us remember what happened next? Satan tempted Jesus to exercise His power and His right to call for assistance from the Father, but the truly ironic thing is that, after the devil left Jesus, God rewarded the obedience of His Son by sending the very aid with which Satan had teased our Lord.
16 No king is saved by the multitude of an army;
A mighty man is not delivered by great strength.
17 A horse is a vain hope for safety;
Neither shall it deliver any by its great strength.
18 Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him,
On those who hope in His mercy,
19 To deliver their soul from death,
And to keep them alive in famine.
Ever since the fall of Adam and Eve, every human being has been on an inexorable march toward death. No money nor earthly power can buy us more days than God has set for us before we were born. (Psalms 39:4-5) We are frail and weak, and it is only by the unending mercy of God that we are not consumed by His wrath toward those who rebel against Him. (Lamentations 3:22) But the Lord recognizes and watches over those who fear Him. He delivers us from death and keeps us alive in famine–just as He did our Lord Jesus! Jesus stayed true to God, and God rewarded that faithfulness with ministering angels who took care of our Lord in His hunger and human frailty. Jesus didn’t need to call for flights of angels nor the armies of God, because God was already watching over Him.
You and I may feel sometimes as if the Lord is NOT watching over us. I know that I have been in some very terrible situations when it felt like the Lord was distant from me, that He wasn’t even aware of my plight. I felt like David:
1 To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.
How long, O LORD?
Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?
2 How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
Having sorrow in my heart daily?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?
3 Consider and hear me, O LORD my God;
Enlighten my eyes, Lest I sleep the sleep of death;
4 Lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed against him”;
Lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved.
But the “punch line” of this psalm of David is in the final lines:
5 But I have trusted in Your mercy;
My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.
6 I will sing to the LORD,
Because He has dealt bountifully with me.
You see, despite the dire straits in which David found himself, he still rejoiced in the Lord’s salvation, he still counted on God’s mercy and providence. In the desert, our Lord Jesus might have made bread from stones, called angels to save Him from death, and even taken up dominion over the world–and UNDER Satan. But instead, our Savior chose obedience to the Father’s will and His Word, obedience that would even lead to death. In His obedience, Jesus not only was able to resist Satan and endure temptation, He was also rewarded with the care and comfort of God. And beyond the Cross, Jesus was further rewarded with resurrection and eternal life and glory.
15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments.
16 “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever–
17 “the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.
18 “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.
19 “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also.
20 “At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.
21 “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”
When we are obedient to God and resist the devil, God manifests Himself to us. He comes to us in the Spirit of truth that guides and comforts us, that brings us to wisdom and repentance. God comes to us in the form of the ministries of earthly “angels”–those fellow believers who are called to help others in need. He also sends His own heavenly angels to tend to us, to keep us back from the brink of death, temptation, or tragedy. But mostly, when we are obedient to God, we are blessed by His salvation, for our faith is proved by our perseverance in the face of temptation and testing.
1 Peter 1:6-9
6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials,
7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,
8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,
9 receiving the end of your faith–the salvation of your souls.
Jesus endured temptation for US. As the Son of God, Jesus had the power to escape from those temptations, to yield to Satan’s enticement to exercise power and authority, but our Lord chose instead to remain obedient to God and in His glory to give the power and authority to us.
18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
And now the onus falls upon us to share the gospel and make disciples, to follow the commandments of Jesus and remain obedient to the will of God for us. Yes, we WILL face persecution. (Matthew 10:22) And we will be tempted to give it all up and follow the ways of the world. But if we are true to God, if we persist through the end, if we overcome, then we will find that God will minister to us and bless us with far more than the world could ever give us.
“Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. ”
Holy Lord God, I do not know if I can have such faith, to persist until death. I pray, dear Lord, Author and Perfecter of my faith, that You will make me so faithful. I pray that You will give me the will to resist the devil, so that I may draw nearer and nearer to You. Help me, Father, not to desire earthly things but to desire only what You desire: mercy, righteousness, and truth. Teach me that humble faith that Your Son showed in His testing in the desert, and show me how to rely only upon Your grace in all things. Amen.