Read Matthew 26:36-56
We often speak in terms of guardian angels who offer protection to us. This is not particularly unbiblical. After all, we read in Hebrews 1:14 this rhetorical question that enables us to see that angel activity intersects with the lives of the redeemed: “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?” Granted, we are not told that the ministry of angels is only protective in nature, but it seems consistent with some of the statements in Matthew’s gospel.
- At the beginning of Christ’s ministry, Satan tempted Jesus to throw Himself down from the top of the temple with the rationale, “He will command His angels concerning You, and they will lift You up in their hands, so that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.” (Matt. 4:6) Indeed, angels could have responded, but it would have been foolish to obligate God with such an unnecessary, foolish decision.
- In this passage, at the end of Christ’s ministry, soldiers have surrounded, seized, and arrested Jesus. When Peter strikes out in defense, Jesus makes clear that He could have called upon His Father, who would have dispensed twelve legions of angels (72,000) to come to His defense. But Jesus chose not to call upon them because He was committed to the will of the Father expressed in the Old Testament Scriptures that included His suffering (Is. 53).
So, what about those times when the angels don’t show up? Maybe it wasn’t as if we intentionally put ourselves or God in a position where they had to. It isn’t like we foolishly stepped out in front of a car and somehow “obligated God” to respond to our stupidity. No, it wasn’t like that at all. Maybe we were driving in our own lane, minding our own business and we were struck by someone else, seemingly without angelic intervention. We incurred injuries and major car damage.
Perhaps we tried to eat right, exercise some, and generally take good care of ourselves. But where were the angels that should have prevented the diagnosis that included that dreaded 6-letter word c_____?
Those are good questions. It is interesting, however, to recognize that the very one who had 72,000 angels ready to respond to His situation had also prayed just moments before His unwarranted arrest, “May Your will be done” (v. 42).
Is it possible, then, that the Father has a bigger plan…even when the angels don’t show up? It may be a plan that I cannot yet see and, perhaps, one that I will never know. It is, however, one that I can by faith embrace as I trust the One I live to honor.