“Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matt 26:52,53)
As we move through the Spring season of communion services and the calendar observance of Good Friday, we turn our minds and hearts again to the old, old story of the suffering and death of Christ.
The story astounds, relieves, and humbles us. That God, our Sovereign Creator, would give us the gift of His only begotten Son is a mystery and a delight to us. Surely, none of us really believe that we deserved or earned this gift. Surely, we sense our terrific responsibility to pledge our full allegiance to our Heavenly Father.
One of the details of the story of Good Friday which moves me is the fact that Jesus humbled himself (Php 2:8) to the cross. Most adults are aware of the rough edges of submission. Submission is a choice. When someone submits, it is because they chose to. I have heard of “beating something into submission”. However, even when that happens in the human experience, it is because the recipient chooses submission instead of additional coercion.
There was no coercion in the story of Christ. He chose to submit. What really causes me pause is when I realize that Christ not only chose submission; He chose submission while He had full resources at His command to take another path. We sing, “He could have called ten thousand angels, to destroy the world and set Him free.” The introductory verse explains that Christ not only had the resources of angels at his disposal, He was also very much aware of it.
Consider these questions: If twelve legions of angels descended that night on Jerusalem, would there have been enough humans for a one-to-one combat? If one of God’s angels could slay 186,000 people in a night, what could 12 legions do? If angels “do always behold the face of the father” as they watch how we relate to children, what do you think they wanted to do as humanity prepared their own final evening sacrifice? What kind of signal would the legions have needed to move in to protect their own?
Can you, with me, take a moment to ponder that in this hour only the submission of Christ to a will greater than His own saved us from annihilation? Can we understand that the choice to say, “Not my will,” was integral to our salvation?
We must ever be grateful that our Savior stood between us and His ministers and chose NOT to let them deliver Him.
If any doubts remain about the very precarious state which the human race was in at that moment, let us consider ourselves. Have any of us ever been in a situation where we could have changed the outcome of a situation because we had resources at our hands to do it?
Suppose we have the funds, the time, and the means to change a situation, should we do it? At first, we might say, “yes.” But what if the will of God is different than what we want to do?
For all of Jesus’ life, it had been the right thing to do to leave the destructive scenes—Bethlehem, Nazareth, and others. He moved away. But this time, it was God’s will for Christ to stay. It was “His hour”, and Christ surrendered.
This is the meekness of Christ on display. When we hold back what we could change with our resources because we know the will of God, this, too, is meekness. Marriage relations, leadership roles, difficult relationships are all examples of places where we may have the means to get away, to separate, or to protect ourselves. But God’s will may communicate something else, and in meekness, the relief from the angels may never come. But to do the will of God is always best.
As we meditate again on the suffering and death of Christ, let us observe and tremble at the meekness of Christ. Then, as we take up our cross, let us remember that in this we may have the opportunity to practice this same meekness. Take heed, this will only happen when our will is fully submitted to the will of God. anything less, and the angels will fly.