Twelve legions

by Mike Benson

Peter in his bravado evidently decided to go solo. He was going to take on an entire mob armed with swords and clubs (cf. Matthew 26:47).

At least that what he wanted everyone to believe.

To prove his ardor and determination, the ever-brash disciple took out his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off one of his ears.

Peter wasn’t going to go down without a fight.

“Ya’ll come on…”

Jesus had a different approach.

“Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot not pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:52b-53-emphasis mine, mb).


A Roman legion consisted of about 6,000 men plus auxiliaries. Punch a couple of buttons on your laptop calculator and you discover that Jesus said he could have summoned more than 72,000 angels.

Let that resonate between your ears for just a few moments, then say it out loud–“seventy-two thousand.”

What is especially striking to me is that Jesus chose not to call them. He was God on earth; God-incarnate with all power at his disposal. And in one of his greatest displays of restraint, Jesus did not summon the legions.

One word and angelic hordes would have poured out of the sky upon the scene to fight for him. “Put your puny sword away, Peter-seventy-two thousand are on standby; they’re closer than you think.”

Dear Christian, the next Lord’s Day when your head is bowed and your heart and mind are focused on the Lord’s Supper, remember that.

He could have called seventy-two thousand angels.

But he didn’t. And aren’t you glad?


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