It Wasn't Plan-B
Around the time Jesus walked the earth, a legion of soldiers was upwards of 5000 men, according to the majority of Bible scholars. So, in Matthew 26:53 when Jesus says, “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?”...we can deduce that Jesus is painting a picture in His disciples‘ minds that 60,000 or more angels are at His beckoned call.
And while we know 60,000 angels fighting a battle against the mob that had arrested Jesus would be a total slaughter, we sometimes get caught up in the image of an endless sea of warriors coming to His rescue. And maybe that’s exactly the image we should get, but the point of His answer was something else entirely.
Let us be careful not to miss the bigger picture which is simply this. He is the Son of God and He was in command of that situation. That's the point of His statement isn’t it, that His rescue would be one breath away if He wanted it that way, but that His rescue was not the will of the Father. We know this because of the very next verse, “But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” (vs54)
The power of God could do with one angel what our minds could do with 60,000. In fact, the thoughts of God alone could have rescued Jesus without sending one single angel, right? I’ve said this before, Christ used His power to not use His power. Read that again if you need to, because we need to know that instead of calling for rescue, that He focused on what God said must be done, and He restrained Himself from using the power He had. (Matt 26:47 to 27:56). I’m not sure any other human could have done so!
Jesus knew if you and I were to have a chance at eternity with Him, that He must finish what He came to do. There was no plan-B (read vs 54 again). There was no strategy to limit His suffering. There was no effort to change the plan of redemption outlined for our Lord, a plan whereby He must be the atoning sacrifice for your sins and mine if there were ever to be any redemption by God of sinful mankind. There was no other way. (John 3:14-15). “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” Many religious teachings today deny all of this, saying Christ’s suffering and death were never in God’s plans.
Some of these go so far as to teach that Jesus failed when He came the first time, that the Jews rejected Him and killed Him to prevent Him from establishing His kingdom, so He left and went back to heaven, leaving the church as an after thought. This false teaching assumes that Jesus came to establish a kingdom with an earthly throne for Him to occupy in the first place, a total contradiction to scripture. Scriptures quotes Jesus as saying, “My kingdom is not of this world...”. (John 18:36). Many other scriptures of the life of Christ, and multiple Old Testament prophecies talk about the death that the Christ must die, and that it was the plan and foreknowledge of God. (Acts 2:23).
These false teachers say Jesus will come back some day to establish His earthly kingdom and they have it all lined out how it will happen. I wonder how confident they are in success, since “he failed” the first time. If the Jews could thwart His plans 2000 years ago, surely today’s opposition would have no problem. See where all of this makes no sense at all? It has no connection to scripture, and nullifies the power of God.
If God could raise Jesus on the third day, if God could wipe out whole nations as He did in OT times, is there any question that He could have caused Jesus to be able to establish an earthly kingdom under His rule if that had been the plan? Jesus didn’t fail, and the church is not an after thought. “His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Ephesians 3:10-11 NIV. According to what?, His eternal purpose that He accomplished through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
These false teachings really limit the power of God don’t they? Such teachings are foreign to scripture and contradict it repeatedly. When Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:28-30) while hanging on the cross, it was not a cry of defeat, but the acknowledgment of victory. Christ had completed His task. His earthly kingdom in the form of the church would soon be established according to plan as well, but after Jesus returned to the Father, and sent the Holy Spirit Who He said ...”will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:26). In keeping with that promise, His church will remain until He comes back to claim His own. (Rev 22:12)