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A sermon written by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr., Pastor Emeritus
and given by Jack Ngann, Pastor
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Afternoon, March 13, 2022

“Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53; p. 1039 Scofield).

When Jesus had prayed the third time in Gethsemane, He came to the sleeping Disciples and said,

“Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me” (Matthew 26:46; p. 1039).

Then, through the darkness, the sounds of a mob could be heard. A large crowd of over 300 Roman soldiers approached,

“…of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, [coming] thither with lanterns and torches and weapons”
     (John 18:3; p. 1140).

Judas had led them there because he

“knew the place: for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples” (John 18:2; p. 1140).

Judas came to Jesus and kissed Him, thus pointing out to the soldiers who Jesus was. He betrayed Christ with a kiss.

Jesus said to the soldiers, “Who are you looking for?” They said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said, “I am he.” They were jolted “and fell to the ground” when He said this. That showed His power as God the Son. Then Jesus said, “I have told you that I am he: if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way” (John 18:8).

At that moment Peter woke up, pulled out his sword, and swung into action. Flailing his sword in the darkness, he cut off the right ear of the high priest’s servant. Jesus “touched his ear, and healed him” (Luke 22:51). Then Jesus spoke to Peter.

“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?” (Matthew 26:52-53; p. 1039).

I draw two simple lessons from this text.

I. First, Christ could have called thousands of angels to save Him.

A Roman legion was made up of 6,000 soldiers. Jesus said that He could call on God the Father, and He would have sent twelve legions of angels at that moment. If He had wanted to be saved from the hands of these soldiers, He could have called on God, and 72,000 angels were available. Dr. John Gill pointed out that “a single angel slew in one night an hundred, fourscore, and five thousand men [185,000 men], 2 Kings 19:35. Wherefore had Christ had any inclination to have been rescued from the present danger, he stood in no need of Peter’s sword” (Dr. John Gill, An Exposition of the New Testament, The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1989 reprint, volume I, p. 340).

Christ’s words and actions show that He was in complete command of the entire situation. When He said, “I am he,” the Roman soldiers fell backward under the power of God. When Peter cut off the ear of Malchus, the high priest’s servant, Christ graciously touched the wound and healed him. And now Christ calmly tells Peter that God could deliver Him by the power of thousands of mighty angels if He but prayed for such deliverance. But He did not pray to be rescued.

They bound the hands of Jesus in the garden where He prayed,
They led Him through the streets in shame.
They spat upon the Saviour, so pure and free from sin,
They said, “Crucify Him; He’s to blame.”
He could have called ten thousand angels
To destroy the world and set Him free.
He could have called ten thousand angels,
But He died alone, for you and me.
     (“Ten Thousand Angels” by Ray Overholt, 1959).

II. Second, Christ went to the Cross willingly.

We must never think that Christ was arrested in the Garden by surprise. He knew what was coming long before He was arrested that night.

Days before He took the Disciples to Jerusalem, He told them what would happen. Matthew says,

“Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again” (Matthew 20:18-19; p. 1027).

And Luke records what Jesus said at that time, days before His arrest,

“Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again” (Luke 18:31-33; p. 1102).

This shows that He knew exactly what would happen to Him when they got to Jerusalem. But He went anyway. He went to His suffering and crucifixion on purpose, freely and willingly.

Twice Jesus said that He had come for this hour, and this purpose. He told the Disciples,

“Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour”
     (John 12:27; p. 1133).

Again, when He stood before the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, He said, “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world” (John 18:37).

Christ went willingly with the soldiers to the Cross because He knew that He was born for that purpose – to die on the Cross to pay the penalty for man’s sin. His arrest there was no accident or mistake. He knew it was coming all of His life. “For this cause came I unto this hour” (John 12:27). “To this end was I born” (John 18:37).

Christ went willingly with the soldiers, to face scourging and crucifixion the next day, out of obedience to God’s plan for His life. Christ

“made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross”
     (Philippians 2:7-8; p. 1258).

“Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him”
     (Hebrews 5:8-9; p. 1295).

When the soldiers arrested Him in the Garden of Gethsemane, He went with them quietly and without any protest, out of obedience to God His Father.

“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth”
     (Isaiah 53:7; p. 760).

Upon His precious head they placed a crown of thorns,
They laughed and said, “Behold the King.”
They struck Him and they cursed Him,
And mocked His holy name.
All alone He suffered every thing.
He could have called ten thousand angels
To destroy the world and set Him free.
He could have called ten thousand angels,
But He died alone, for you and me.

Christ went through His agony on the Cross willingly, out of obedience to God. “He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter” (Isaiah 53:7).

Think of what would have happened to us if Christ had not gone with the soldiers “as a lamb to the slaughter” that night. What if He had called on those teeming hordes of angels, and had escaped the Cross? What would have happened to you and me?

First, we would have had no one to vicariously pay the price for our sins on the Cross. We would have no substitute, no one to die in our place for sin. That would have left us in a truly horrible condition. You would have to pay for your own sin in the dark bowels of Hell for all eternity.

Second, if Christ had not gone with those soldiers “as a lamb to the slaughter,” we would have had no mediator between you and a Holy and Just God. You would have had to face God at the Last Judgment with no one to intercede for you to God,

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (I Timothy 2:5; p. 1275).

If Christ had not gone with the soldiers to the Cross when they arrested Him, you would have no mediator. “This refers to someone who intervenes between two parties to resolve a conflict…Jesus Christ is the only mediator who can restore peace between God and sinners” (The MacArthur Study Bible, note on I Timothy 2:5). Only God the Son could bring God the Father and sinful man together. If Jesus had not gone with the soldiers to His crucifixion, you would have no one to bring us into a peaceful relationship to a Holy God.

Third, if Christ had not gone with those soldiers “as a lamb to the slaughter” we would not be able to enter into everlasting life. The best known verse in the Bible says,

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16; p. 1117).

If Christ had not gone with the soldiers when they arrested Him, John 3:16 would not be true, and you would have no hope whatever of obtaining everlasting life.

Fourth, if Christ had not gone with those soldiers, “as a lamb to the slaughter,” the Blood He shed on the Cross the next day would not be available to you – to cleanse you from your sin. If He had disobeyed God, and escaped from the Cross, you would have no crucifixion Blood to wash your sins away. But Christ did go with them that night, to be crucified for your sins. And now the Apostle Paul could boldly say,

“Christ Jesus, whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood” (Romans 3:24-25; p. 1195).

Now, this day,

There is a fountain filled with blood
     Drawn from Immanuel’s veins;
And sinners, plunged beneath that flood,
     Lose all their guilty stains.
(“There Is a Fountain” by William Cowper, 1731-1800).

Will you come and trust Christ? He will pay the price for your sins. He will become your mediator, bringing you into favor with God. You will have everlasting life. Your sins will all be blotted out of God’s record, washed away eternally by Christ’s precious Blood.

I am so glad that Jesus obeyed God the Father and went with those soldiers the night they arrested Him in the Garden. If He had not gone with them to His humiliation, His suffering, and the Cross, I could not offer any of those precious things this day.

To the howling mob He yielded, He did not for mercy cry.
The Cross of shame He took alone.
And when He cried, “It’s finished,”
He gave Himself to die;
Salvation’s wondrous plan was done.
He could have called ten thousand angels
To destroy the world and set Him free.
He could have called ten thousand angels,
But He died alone, for you and me.

And now I ask you, will you trust the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world? You have resisted Him so long. You have hardened your heart against the Saviour many times. Today, will you yield to Him?

How can you not trust such a Saviour who willingly went through such suffering for you? I pray that you will trust Him. Amen.