You gotta love him! One moment he’s sleeping, the next, he’s swinging a sword. Though there’s no doubt his “flesh was weak”, there can equally be no doubt that his “spirit was willing.”
Willing to be a lone warrior, he draws his sword, ready to defend his master and stand against “a great crowd with swords and spears.” He tries to level a head shot against one of the high priest’s servants, perhaps one of the first to lay hands on the Master, but unaccustomed as he was to taking off a man’s head, he instead manages a glancing blow which take’s off the servant’s ear.
Matthew, in his gospel, doesn’t identify the would be defender of the Messiah. But years later, writing his account of the life of Jesus, John would identify the disciple who would be a swordsman as none other than Peter (Jn. 18:10). And like I said, you gotta love him!”
But Jesus tells Peter to put way the sword.
Jesus had already settled the matter with the Father in the garden (if Peter had been able to stay awake in the garden, he might have known that). This was a cup He must drink. It was the Father’s will.
And Jesus had come to do the Father’s will. No sword required. No angels required.
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 26:52-54 ESV)
Ok, imagine that. The mob advances upon Jesus and His disciples, swords and spears in hand. Judas walks up to Jesus and delivers his kiss of death. And then Jesus flashes the sign and, BAM!!!, the crowd is staring down a football stadium of angels arrayed around the Son of God.
Twelve legions of angels. If we’re using a Roman legion as the metric, then that’s more than 72,000 awe-invoking messengers of God. And we’re not talking some winged fairies in diapers floating on clouds, but divine warriors mounted on horses and chariots of fire (2Ki. 6:17). Talk about your guardian angels!
If Jesus had any inclination of being rescued from His present danger, he had no need of Peter’s sword.
But Jesus had no such inclination. He had set His face toward Jerusalem. He had a baptism to be baptized with. He would not turn back. He would give His back to those who would strike Him, His face to those who would pull out His beard, and hide not from those who would deride and spit upon Him (Isa. 50:5-6).
He would be lifted up–lifted up on a Roman cross. He would endure the wrath of God for the sins of the world. He would endure the darkness, forsaken of the Father. He would endure it all for the joy set before Him (Heb. 12:2) — the anticipation of souls rescued from death, and a kingdom established for eternity.
Jesus would trade the legions of angels in the garden for a “great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Rev. 7:9-10).
Jesus came to do the Father’s will. No angels required.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
What amazing grace. To Him be all the glory.