Matthew 26:47 While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; with him was a large crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him.” 49 At once he came up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. 50 Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you are here to do.” Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and arrested him. 51 Suddenly, one of those with Jesus put his hand on his sword, drew it, and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. 52 Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then would the scriptures be fulfilled, which say it must happen in this way?” 55 At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. 56 But all this has taken place, so that the scriptures of the prophets may be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.
I’m drawn this morning to v.53 in which Jesus says, “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more that twelve legions of angels?” A legion of Roman soldiers would have been somewhere between 3,000 – 6,000 fighting men. Twelve legions of angels would have been… a lot – which was Jesus’ point. He may have appeared to have been helpless or undefended, but he was not.
He willingly gave himself over to death.
I’m a bit of a military history fan, particularly American military history. There are many stories of soldiers, marines, airmen giving their lives so that their comrades could escape and live to fight another day. Some were ordered to fight to the last in order to buy time for others. Others chose to do so of their own accord. In any case, giving one’s life for others is an incredibly selfless thing.
So this morning, as I ponder the sacrifice of Jesus 2,000 years ago, I also remember the men and women of the armed services who have given their lives when called upon to do so.
Lord, the bible tells us that there is no greater love than laying down one’s life for one’s friends. Thank you for those who have demonstrated such love over the centuries. We owe them a debt that can never be repaid. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.