Christ Would Rather Die than Disobey Scripture

By Andrew Davis, Senior Pastor

This is the second post in my series on Christ’s view of the Bible. You’re welcome to read the introductory post here, if you haven’t done so already.

So in Christ’s life, what was his view of the Bible? Let’s start off with this: Christ would rather die than disobey Scripture. On the night that Jesus was arrested, he showed incredible courage—more so than anyone in history. When he went to the Garden of Gethsemane that night, the Scripture states that Jesus was “amazed” (Mark 14:33 KJV) with the realization of what it would be like to drink the cup of God’s wrath. He had been born to die, and that was what was at stake—and what he was always willing to do.

The Taking of Christ by Caravaggio, ca. 1602.

In the Garden that night, God the Father revealed to his Son Jesus, perhaps at a very deep and personal level, just what it would be like physically, emotionally, and spiritually to drink the cup of God’s wrath for the sins of the world. Jesus agreed to do this willingly, though the effort in prayer was so extreme that he was sweating great drops of blood (cf. Luke 22:44).

Having decided to bear the wrath we deserved, Jesus got up and went out to confront Judas—his betrayer—and the mob of soldiers with him. The betrayer had arranged a signal and kissed Jesus as a mark to indicate he’s the one that should be arrested.

The account from Matthew goes as follows:

Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen this way?

At that time Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled. (Matt 20:50–56)

When Peter (i.e., the companion of Jesus who desired to save him by fighting the soldiers) drew his sword and began to fight (see John 18:10), Jesus stopped him with a three-fold answer: First, all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Second, to paraphrase Jesus, “If I were trying to avoid arrest, I would simply call on the Father, and he would send a heavenly army large enough to conquer the entire world.” Third, but how then would the Scripture be fulfilled that says it must happen in this way?

The answer to Jesus’ first statement is obvious. Peter has a small personal sword (Greek macharia). He’s no match for the band of Roman soldiers there to arrest Jesus. In fact, the Greek word used of the soldiers in the parallel account of John 18:3 is speira, which implies a tenth of a Roman legion. In other words, he’ll be immediately cut down if he tries to fight.

The second statement Jesus made is absolutely stunning. It demonstrates the incredible power that is at Jesus’ disposal—the Father’s heavenly armies. Just try to picture it in your mind: twelve legions of angels would be something like 72,000 angelic warriors. And, just one angel killed 185,000 Assyrian troops in the Old Testament in one night (see Isaiah 37:36)! The angels would be “put at Christ’s disposal” by his heavenly Father, and happily willing to do anything the Son of God commanded. They would have immediately made short work of these Roman soldiers.

But Jesus had a deeper concern. He said, “But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” (Matt 26:54). A moment later, Jesus proclaimed to the arresting mob the real reason for that evening’s events: “This has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled” (Matt 26:56).

To Jesus, this is the real issue. Jesus would rather die than break Scripture! Let me say that again: Jesus would rather die than break Scripture! In this, he stands alone atop the human race. There is no other person in history who had a higher view of Scripture than Jesus Christ did. We prove that fact every time we sin—i.e., our view of Scripture isn’t as high as his. Even the holy martyrs who died rather than denying Christ still sinned at other points in their lives.

At one point in Hebrews, the author writes, “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood” (Heb 12:4). Not so with Christ; Jesus resisted sin to the point of shedding his own blood. Jesus’ view of Scripture was that his life was forfeit to fulfill Scripture’s prophecies, and it should likewise be one of our life’s ambition as Christians to rise ever-upward to his standard in our estimation of God’s Word.

In my next post on the topic, I will consider how Jesus taught that he fulfilled Scripture, which should be posted up sometime next week.

Image Credit: Wikipedia.

Back to top