Let the Angels Serve Us

Lent 1 Saturday

Matthew 4:8-11

“Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory and said to him: “All this I will give to you if you fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said: “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship God your Lord and serve him only.’””

Then the devil left him. And look, angels came and served him. The order of these temptations, how Christ encountered them one after the other, cannot be known for certain. For the evangelists do not agree. The temptation Matthew has as the second, Luke has as last, Luke 4:9-12. Conversely, the one Luke has as second, Matthew places last, as if he did not care too much about the order. But if one wanted to preach and talk about it, Luke’s order would be the best. For it makes narrative sense that the devil tempts first by deprivation and misfortune. If that does not work, then he tempts by fortune and honors. And finally, if all this was in vain, he goes all out and tempts by error, lies, and other spiritual tricks. But because they do not follow any particular order in practice and experience, but a Christian is tempted now by the last, then by the first, etc., Matthew did not pay attention to the order that would be fitting for a preacher to follow. And this is perhaps also how it happened to Christ during his forty days in the desert: The devil did not observe any particular order, but tempted him with this temptation today, with the other tomorrow, and after ten days again with the first, and so forth as it happened. Finally, the angels came to him and served him. This must have taken place in a bodily manner: They appeared in a bodily manner and brought him food and drink and satisfied all his needs as at table. For the service took place outwardly and benefited his body, just as the devil also, his tempter, appeared doubtlessly in a bodily form, perhaps also as an angel. For since he placed him on the pinnacle of the temple and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in an instant, he must have been something higher than a mere man, as he passed himself off as something higher when he offered Christ all the kingdoms on earth and wants Christ to worship him. But he did not use his own outward appearance as devil, because he prefers to be beautiful when he wants to lie and deceive, as St. Paul says about him in 2 Corinthians 11:14: he appears as an angel of light. But this is written for our comfort that we should know how many angels serve us when one devil assaults us. If we fight valiantly and prevail, before God allows us to suffer deprivation, the angels must come down from heaven and become our bakers, wine makers, and cooks and serve us in all our needs. This was not written for the sake of Christ who does not need it. If the angels served him, let them also serve us.

St. Louis ed., 11:543-545.

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