There could have been a battle. It could have been over in less than a second, because who can fight against a Lion? How do you make a stand against the One who spoke you and the universe into existence? There could have been a pile of bodies that night and a new king on the throne right then and there. It would have been over. No crown of thorns. No cross. Just a new kingdom. A new king. That was what his disciples wanted. It is what Judas wanted. It is what they argued about. “When you sit on your glorious throne, we want to sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.” (Mk. 10:37) Jesus replied that they did not know what they were asking. They did not realize that the path to this throne was covered in blood. It was covered in shameful humiliation and it was covered in anguish we cannot even fathom.
At one point, after Jesus had been betrayed by Judas, Peter decided to take this into his own hands. The time had come to fight. He whipped out his sword and slashed off the ear of one of the men there with the high priest. He was probably swinging for his head. He was in fight mode. It was time to do this, to take the kingdom. Jesus stopped him. “Put away your sword.” How must those words have sounded to him and the others as men surrounded their teacher, the Messiah, on whom hung the hopes of Israel and the world? Put away your sword?? They could kill Him. Didn’t he understand? Now was the time to fight! But then Jesus spoke again and said, “Don’t you realize that I could ask my father for thousands of angels to protect us, and He would send them instantly?” Maybe this was going in the right direction after all. Maybe this would be a fight with help from heaven, like in some stories in the Old Testament. But then Jesus spoke again. “But if I did, how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that describe what must happen now.?” What? What “must happen now?” So…He was not going to stop this? This was on purpose? Jesus told them that he was not some dangerous revolutionary that they needed to come arrest with clubs and swords. He said, “All this is happening to fulfill the words of the prophets as recorded in the Scriptures.”
And then, one of the most painful moments Jesus would endure…when they realized that he was not going to fight… it says, “At that point all the disciples deserted Him and fled.” (Mt. 26:56).
And Jesus, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, was bound like a lamb being led to the slaughter, surrounded by faces of hate and rage, and he was utterly alone.
What must the disciples have felt as they ran and abandoned Jesus to suffer this torture alone? Their hopes for the future were wrapped up in this man they had left everything to follow. They had seen his power. There was no contest. Why would he not fight for them? For the kingdom?
If they had stayed…if they had stayed and not run when they were afraid, could they have asked him that? Why aren’t you fighting for us? Would he have been able to answer them, as thorns were rammed into his head, as the hands that opened blind eyes were nailed to a piece of wood, as the voice that called the stars into being trembled and struggled to breathe and say, “My beloved…I am fighting.”
Their greatest need was not a castle and a kingdom for right now. It was for forgiveness from sin and life in a kingdom that never ends. They needed an eternal Savior. Not a temporary King. He was fighting, on a level more deep and powerful than anything we could imagine. He was fighting to save them. He was fighting to save me. He was fighting to save you, and everyone who has ever or will ever believe. He took on Satan, and sin and death and hell and he absorbed the full wrath of a Holy God and he did it all like a “lamb, silent before its’ shearers.” He didn’t fight to save himself because he was fighting to save us…. He won. The Lamb has overcome. The battle is over. We live. That is why we sing. That is why we worship. That is why we hold on to Him when we cannot understand what He is doing in our lives, when it hurts too much. When we wonder why he is not fighting for us. He is. Though it may not look the way we think it should, He is fighting for us, his Bride. And He always wins.