Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Matthew 4: Angels and Animals attend Jesus?

Jesus relives Biblical history.

Both Mathew and Mark record the fact that angels 'attended' Jesus while he was being tempted. The word has the idea of 'waiting on' him or 'serving' him with food. This grammatical interpretation is further validated by literary parallels to other godly examples in Biblical history. Elijah also went into the wilderness and was brought bread and water by an angel. Samson is provided with a miraculous spring of water on the brink of starvation in the wilderness. And in Jewish literature, even Adam is brought food by angels (Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 59b).

The point is that God always feeds his 'son' with food in the wilderness. Adam is called God's son. Israel in the wildness is called God's son. If Jesus is the ultimate Son of God, it must be true of him also.

I also think that the Spirit had the writer record this little detail so we would not miss the connection between Adam and Christ. Both are tempted by the devil. Both are fed by angels. One fails the test. The other passes. Many rabbis call Adam, 'the first Adam'. But only Christianity identifies 'the last Adam', 'the eschatos Adam'. This new Adam does not cave to the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life. With him a new humanity begins, paradise is restored, and the serpent is defeated.

This Garden of Eden motif has caused many scholars to regard "Jesus being with the wild animals" as a taming of the wild animals, as they were at the beginning, and a partial fulfillment of Isaiah prophecy that the lion and lamb will lie down together, the boy and the serpent will play together. Others see the wild animals emphasizing the dangers of the wilderness since Isaiah 35:9 and Ezekiel 34:23-28 hold that when God restores the wilderness to garden that there will be no wild beasts in it.

Stay tuned tomorrow to find out why Jesus fasted 40 days and why he went into the wilderness to be tempted...

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