Honestly, it would have been awesome . . . and I try not to use that word very much, trying to reserve it for that which is truly . . . well, awesome! But it would have been. Had Jesus, on the night His betrayer showed up with that crowd of men carrying clubs and swords to seize Him, had He called to His Father to send legions of angels to deliver Him, it would have been awesome.
Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized Him. And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” (Matthew 26:50b -54 ESV)
Imagine it. Out of nowhere . . . BAM!!! . . . twelve legions of angels. A legion for everyone of them, Jesus and the eleven disciples who still stood with Him . . . sorry Judas, you’re on your own! If we’re thinking Roman legion, then we’re thinking over 6,000 per angel band . . . more than 72,000 angels descend from nowhere ready to protect the Son of God. And we’re not talking about 72,000 baby angels in diapers with little wings floating about playing harps. We’re talking warrior angels . . . the type of angels that, when you see just one, you are facedown in fear . . . the type of angels that Elisha saw flanking Israel’s enemies “full of horses and chariots of fire” (2Kings 6:17) . . . the type of angels that engage the forces of darkness and win. Like I said, it would have been awesome!
Had Jesus any thought of being rescued from the murderous horde, He had no need of Peter’s puny sword (Peter was the sword-bearer, see John 18:10). Had the Lamb of God any thought of avoiding the altar of sacrifice, hand to hand combat would not have been necessary. Had God’s Only Son not wanted to be forsaken of His Father as He hung on a cross bearing the wrath for my sin, He only needed to call on His heavenly army. Had Jesus purposed to have the cup pass from Him, instead of praying, “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will” (Matt. 26:39), He would have instead cried, “Father, get me out of here!”
“But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?”
With a whisper to the throne of heaven, Psalm 22 would be struck from Holy Writ. But, so would Isaiah 53.
Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4-5 ESV)
Jesus didn’t call upon twelve legions of angels. In fact, He told Peter to put away the sword. So that the Scriptures would be fulfilled.
Messiah, the Holy Son of God, would subject Himself to the abusive hands of arrogant, sin-blinded men. The Lion of the tribe of Judah came as the spotless Lamb of God and would willingly ascend the altar of sacrifice. He who knew no sin would become sin for us . . . so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God (2Cor. 5:21).
And that’s truly awesome!
All because of grace . . . all for His glory.