How much strength do you think one angel possesses? Today I’d like for us to consider the full impact of Jesus’ words in Matthew 26:53:
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
Let’s look at three questions:
- What is a “legion”?
- How many angels would there be in twelve legions?
- What would be the combined strength of this number of angels?
It is important to know the answers to these questions, because the answers reveal the full might that was available to Jesus had He requested supernatural help in the Garden of Gethsemane. Actually, when we take into account the power that was already demonstrated in the Garden and then add the potential assistance and impact of twelve legions of angels, it becomes obvious that there was no human force on earth strong enough to take Jesus against His will. The only way He was going to be taken was if He allowed Himself to be taken! This is why He later told Pilate, “…Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above…” (John 19:11).
Let’s begin with our first question: What is a “legion”? The word “legion” is a military term that was taken from the Roman army. A legion denoted a group of at least 6,000 Roman soldiers, although the total number could be higher. This means that anytime we read about a legion of anything, we can know it always refers to at least 6,000 of something.
An amazing example of this is found in Mark 5:9, where the Bible tells us that the demon-possessed man of the Gadarenes had a legion of demons. That means this man had an infestation of at least 6,000 demons residing inside him!
Let’s now contemplate the second question: How many angels would there be in twelve legions? Since the word “legion” refers to at least 6,000, it means a legion of angels would be at least 6,000 angels. However, Jesus said the Father would give Him “more than” twelve legions of angels if He requested it. Because it would be pure speculation to try to figure out how many “more than” twelve legions would be, let’s just stick with the figure of twelve legions to see how many angels that entails.
One legion is 6,000 angels, so if you simply multiply that number by twelve, you’ll discover that twelve legions of angels would include a minimum of 72,000 angels. But Jesus said the Father would give Him more than twelve legions of angels; therefore, you can conclude that there were potentially many additional thousands of angels available to Jesus the night He was arrested!
Finally, let’s look at our third question: What would be the combined strength in this number of angels? Angels are powerful! In fact, Isaiah 37:36 records that a single angel obliterated 185,000 men in one night. So if a single angel had that kind of power, how much combined strength would there be in twelve legions of angels?
Since a single angel was able to obliterate 185,000 men in one night, it would mean the combined strength in a legion of 6,000 angels would be enough to destroy 1,110,000,000 men (that is, one billion, one hundred ten million men) — and that’s just the combined power in one legion of angels!
Now let’s multiply this same number 185,000 by twelve legions, or at least 72,000 angels, which was the number of angels Jesus said was available to Him on the night of His arrest. When we do, we find that there was enough combined strength at Jesus’ disposal to have annihilated at least 13,320,000,000 men (that is, thirteen billion, three hundred twenty million men) — which is more than twice the number of people living on the earth right now!
Jesus didn’t need Peter’s little sword that night. Had He chosen to do so, Jesus could have summoned 72,000 magnificent, mighty, dazzling, glorious, overwhelmingly powerful angels to the Garden to obliterate the Roman soldiers and the temple police who had come to arrest Him. In fact, the combined strength in twelve legions of angels could have wiped out the entire human race! But Jesus didn’t call on the supernatural help that was available to Him. Why? Because He knew it was time for Him to voluntarily lay down His life for the sin of the human race.
Glean a lesson from Jesus and from the apostle Peter. Jesus didn’t need Peter’s undersized, insignificant sword to deal with His situation. What good would a single sword have been against all the troops assembled in the Garden that night anyway? Peter’s actions were a perfect example of how the flesh tries in vain to solve its own problems but cannot. Jesus had all the power that was required to conquer those troops.
As you face your own challenges in life, always keep in mind that Jesus has the power to fix any problem you’ll ever come across, and He has stationed His angels around you and for you.
Before you jump in and make things worse by taking matters into your own hands, remember the story of Peter! The next time you’re tempted to “grab a sword and start swinging,” take a few minutes to remind yourself that Jesus can handle the problem without your intervention. Before you do anything else, pray and ask the Lord what you are supposed to do. Then after you receive your answer and follow His instructions, just watch His supernatural power swing into action to solve the dilemma you are facing!
Food For thought: 2 Kings 6:16-17
16 And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.
17 And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.