Legions of Angels
Text: Matthew 28 : 1 - 20
Jesus spoke about how God had legions of angels attending Him. If needs be, God would send any number of His angels to minister to His beloved Son. Let us recall what Jesus said to His disciples concerning the number of angels at His beck and call.
“Do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father,
and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?”
Jesus never did call upon any of those angelic beings to help Him in His hour of need. He bore His pain and suffering trusting in His Father’s perfect plan!
ON THE OCCASION OF THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS
The occasion of the resurrection of Jesus was not insignificant! The appearance of an angel or two would serve to highlight the significance of His resurrection.
In Luke’s Gospel, two angels were mentioned, whereas in Matthew’s Gospel, the focus was on the angel who spoke to the women folk.
“Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they,
and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing
the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone
rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find
the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were greatly
perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them
in shining garments…
They said…’Why do you seek the living among the dead?
He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you
when He was still in Galilee, saying, “The Son of Man must
be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified,
and the third day rise again.” ‘ ”
LUKE 24:1-4, 5b-7
Matthew’s account focused on one of the angels.
“And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel
of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back
the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was
like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow.”
IMPACT ON THE ROMAN SOLDIERS
The might of Rome was secured by the soldiers that formed the legions of Rome. Their courage and strength won them many battles. Rome’s famed legions brought terror to the hearts of their enemies.
Some soldiers had been assigned to guard the tomb of Jesus. Their presence at the tomb was meant to be a deterrent to anyone who might have ideas about stealing the body of Jesus – something the chief priests and the elders feared.
How did these soldiers fare when they were confronted by the two angels? Matthew took note of the impact the angels had on the soldiers.
“And the guards shook for fear of him,
and became like dead men.”
Just one angel and the band of soldiers were frightened to death! The angels must have exuded so much divine power that they were petrified in their presence! The guards would have every reason to fear these angels, if they had foolishly drawn their swords against these angels!
IN DIRECT CONTRAST
What a beautiful contrast we have in the following text. The women folk too were afraid, but swiftly the angels calmed their fears.
“But the angel answered and said to the women,
‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus
who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen,
as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
and go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen
from the dead, and indeed He is going before you
into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.'”
1. Knowledge of the Angel(s)
The way the angel spoke reveals two important truths:-
a) They knew what Jesus had taught His disciples
The angel of the Lord could say, “Remember, how He spoke to you…?” Angels were in attendance as Jesus taught His disciples.
b) They also knew the disciples quite well
How well they knew the disciples. Why had they come to the tomb? Why had they not believed what Jesus had said to them concerning His resurrection? The angels were present, though invisible, when Jesus taught.
2. Two immediate tasks
The angel of the Lord was not sent to frighten anybody. That the soldiers fled because they were afraid was beside the point. The immediate tasks of the angels may be said to include the following:-
a) To announce the Resurrection of Jesus.
b) To give the disciples a message. They were to go to Galilee to meet Jesus there.
They were powerful angelic beings, and yet happy to do simple tasks for the Lord!