The angels of healing—sweet and tough

Jesus knew he needed no other defense—only the angels of God. But to Peter, the mob closing in on them that evening in the garden of Gethsemane must have looked formidable. In the forefront of the angry multitude was Judas Iscariot, a kiss for the Master on his lips and treachery in his heart. And behind him, with swords and cudgels, came people from the high priest and from the other dignitaries of the Jerusalem Temple.

When they grabbed hold of Jesus and started to drag him off, Peter couldn't be still any longer. He drew his sword and slashed off the ear of one of the high priest's men. Instantly the Master told Peter to put away his sword. "Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?" he asked (Matt. 26:53). Luke's Gospel tells us that Jesus healed the man whose ear had been cut off.

Just how many angels are twelve legions? About 72,000 of them! (Most Roman legions were made up of about 6,000 soldiers.) To Peter, that might have been an almost inconceivable number, especially when you consider that the whole Roman military presence in the Middle East was only four legions. But didn't Jesus really want Peter to understand something beyond numbers? Didn't he want Peter to understand how immediate, ever present, infinitely powerful, and totally spiritual, God's help is?

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"It was because we prayed"
August 9, 1993

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