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A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

“Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so.” - Matthew 26:47-56

The deed is done, and, as Jesus had just predicted to His close friends, the hour is now at hand when He is betrayed into the hands of sinners. More specifically, these “sinners” consist of Judas (famously known as The Betrayer), the chief priests and elders, and a large crowd of temple guards and police with swords and clubs at their sides, as if ready for a fight. At first there is no fight. Jesus’ arrest is quick and easy, that is, until Peter gets valiant and cuts off the ear of one of the High Priest’s slaves with his own sword. Surprisingly, all hell does not break loose like you would expect in a scene like this. Instead of using this distraction to slip away, Jesus immediately mitigates the situation and avoids more bloodshed by telling Peter to put away his sword. You see, Peter still does not quite get who Jesus is and the authority He has. Peter may have thought this was a test, a perfect opportunity to show his loyalty to Jesus, when, in fact, Peter’s actions are getting in the way of Jesus’ necessary destiny.

Jesus responds to Peter’s attempted resistance, posing the question, “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?” Here Jesus puts to shame not only Peter but everyone in the crowd carrying a weapon. The number of soldiers present doesn’t hold a candle to the thousands of thousands of angels who stand at His beck and call - more than all the armies of Rome combined. Just as in the wilderness, when Jesus was being tempted by the devil, He doesn’t choose this path, rather, He chooses to take the road less traveled, and much less glamorous. Jesus chooses the path because the easier one would mean no fulfillment of scripture, which says that the Messiah must suffer and die. And if this were not so, there would be no salvation. Jesus knew He must take the hard road, a road that to everyone there, including His disciples who are about to flee, looks like defeat. When we read this now, we can see this defeat is actually a magnificent victory, for Jesus was victorious in His obedience to God and the fulfillment of scripture.

Jesus went to the cross, not as one who did not have power, but willingly. Think of a situation in which you had to decide between doing a hard thing, which you knew would be obedient to God, and taking the easy, more comfortable way out? As a follower of Christ, we come across these kinds of decisions almost daily.  Choosing Jesus does not mean having the easiest life, or the most comfortable one, but He promises it is the blessed one. Take some time to contemplate the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 and pray about what ways Jesus might be calling you to take the hard road today and experience the blessing that comes through it.

Julia Carlisle
Ministry Fellow at Dartmouth
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