For the last few months I have been camping out in the gospels for my daily reading. I found that it helps me get to know individual books better if I read them repeatedly—who would have thought? Finishing Matthew, I was struck anew by Jesus' obedience in the Garden of Gethsemane: obedience, not to the Father, but to the Scriptures. They are, obviously, one and the same, but the emphasis surprised me. Let’s unpack Matthew 26:52ff.
Jesus goes to the Garden to pray, taking his disciples who all fall asleep. Judas betrays his location to the authorities and shows up with a large group of soldiers to arrest Jesus. One of the disciples—we find out in John’s gospel that it is Peter—lashes out with a sword and cuts off a man’s ear. Jesus rebukes him, saying:
Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 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?”
The basis for Jesus' rebuke is not the will of the Father, but fulfilling the Scriptures! Had he decided to fight back, the Father would have sent a dozen legions of angels to defend the Son! But that would have contradicted what was written before. God, by his nature, had bound himself to this course of action from eternity past. This was the way.
We see here God’s faithfulness on display, his faithfulness to his own promises delivered to the saints throughout history. Not even here, in Jesus' most difficult hour, does God abandon his promises. What more proof do I need to believe everything else he has said? Oh my soul, trust in him, because he is faithful!