Matthew 4:1-11 - The Temptations Of Jesus
V. 11 - Satan tries his very best. He understands what is at stake and who he is up against. His very best and most powerful deceptions are leveled against Jesus without effect. Jesus wins at each point. He submits to the will of the Father. He doesn’t consider equality with God something to be grasped. He doesn’t try to define his identity through self-assertion. He doesn’t misuse power at his disposal. In every way he submits to the will of the Father.
So the devil leaves in defeat. The implications are as vast as the kingdoms he saw in the temptation. He won where the first Adam suffered defeat. At least in this initial foray, Jesus, in a state of weakness and dependence, overcomes the highest and best temptations of the tempter and wins the ground for all humanity; at least for now. The devil is defeated, but he is not finished. He will come at Jesus in a thousand ways over the course of his ministry in an attempt to take him out. But for now, he leaves.
The angels come and minister to Jesus. First note that they do not rescue Jesus from temptation or the warfare/battle he just went through. It is commonly thought that angels do our battles “in the heavenlies” for us. There is no evidence of this that I am aware of; certainly not in Matthew. We cannot invoke angels to fight the devil for us. It is we who are commanded to resist the devil in order to cause him to flee (James 4:7). Jesus modeled this in every way.
Angels, in Matthew, are mere executers of the will of God. They are at his dispatch. They are seen to be carriers of revelation (1:20; 2:13,19) and their obedience is expected from God (1:24). They can be sent to protect us from danger, in numbers if necessary (4:6; 26:53) and can minister to us in our weakness (4:11). They are executors of acts of judgment (13:39, 41, 49). They will accompany Jesus on his return to judge the earth (16:27; 25:31). They are entrusted with the care of little children and are ready for dispatch in the presence of the Father (18:10). They stand individually without any special bonded relationships before God in heaven (22:30). They will be sent to gather the elect from all over the earth on the appearing of Jesus in the last day (24:31). They are limited in knowledge, like humans (24:36). Some of them are wicked, in league with Satan, and will suffer the eternal fire of judgment with Satan (25:41). This indicates they have a will to choose good or evil. They also have power over the physical creation (28:2) and can, when appearing glorious, cause great fear in the hearts of humans (28:3-5).
They do not stop temptation, nor do they preempt the need for our exercising our will to engage the devil and resist him. They do not stop our need to know the word of God as a sword to wield against the devil. Jesus himself needed to be able to accurately use God’s word to win the battle. They do not necessarily strengthen us before the battle for our souls, as Jesus did not receive their help in his weakened state prior to his engagement with the tempter. But they are real. They do reveal certain things from the spirit realm. They do minister to us in various ways. They offer some protection when God decrees it is fitting; but this appears to be mostly protection in the physical realm. It seems there is not just one, but multiples of angels assigned to minister to Jesus in this passage. This is further indicated by Jesus’ claim to be able to call 12 legions of angels (approximately 72,000 angels) to his aid if he wanted to (26:53). So it is possible to infer that numbers of angels are at God’s disposal to aid in the ministry to each person.