What is your favorite verse of scripture and why?
Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? – Matthew 26:53
There are lots and lots of great scriptures. This question has an ever-changing answer because my favorite scripture is usually the one that most directly applies to me at the time. However, as I listen to myself preach and talk in general about the Gospel, I have called this verse my “favorite” more than any others.
In the context of this verse, Peter had just cut a soldier’s ears off. The Pharisee’s had conspired with Judas and created a plan to bring Jesus into custody. Peter was going to have none of it. He pulled out his sword and started swinging away. After the blade sliced off the soldier’s ear, Jesus picked up the ear, healed the guy, and then rebuked Peter. Jesus then says the words I have used as the main Bible verse for this WMD.
For those who do not know Him, it is easy to think of Jesus as a powerless wimp. In fact, it is why many people dismiss Him so quickly. For many, Jesus is still a baby lying in a manger. Nobody fears a baby. However, the baby grew up. The man the baby became willingly gave His life on a cross so that you and I might be saved. Jesus said of His life “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” (John 10:18)
Peter had forgotten this authority that Jesus has. I still sometimes forget. Jesus, in Matthew 26:53 was saying this in the AHV (Adam Hopkins Version): “You think I am powerless? You think I need you to defend me? You know if I wanted to, I could absolutely lay the smack down on all who these who seek to harm me? Peter, I could call on the angels and they would at once melt the skin off of all who oppose me! I could watch them suffer to no end. I am not powerless! I choose this! I choose to lay down my life! I choose the cross!”
Why is this my favorite? Because it constantly reminds me of exactly how I am to be. I am to be like Christ. There are many times I feel like I could lash back in an argument and “win.” Many times I get angry and feel like I could use my 75 inches and 210 pounds to physically annihilate somebody. I could very much use my words to put people “in their place.” Man, oh man, I have some serious power to do some serious damage to those around me . . . especially those I love and care about the most. However, if I did choose to do so, would I be anything at all like my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ?
I would be nothing like Him.
He laid down His life that a multitude would be set free. Jesus would not have won a single person’s heart had He chosen to win the world in the same manner as every other ruler . . . with brute force. Instead, He chose to willingly put Himself on a cross. Someone like me just sits here gazing upon Him in my mind in absolute awe and wonder. Why would He choose to lay down His life in such a manner?
He did it to win your heart. He has already won mine. Following Him and His ways is difficult. You think the cross wasn’t difficult? Carrying a cross is always difficult. However, it is when others see you carrying it that they are moved. It is in this laying down of your life that others see Christ in you. This is what wins hearts. This is what makes following Jesus attractive.
Why did you not put that person in their place with your words? You were the one that was right!
Why did you not hit that person who was verbally assaulting you? They deserved it!
Why did you restrain yourself? You could have easily “paid them back” or at the very least gotten “even.”
Why didn’t you finish the fight? They started it!
Why didn’t you hit back? They hit you first!
The answer is simple: Jesus laid down His life for me. The most powerful man who ever lived, God contained in human flesh, sacrificed Himself that He might win my heart. The least I can do is live my life in a like manner.
I choose to lay down my life, that others might choose Christ.