On several occasions, Jesus somehow invoked an escape clause and cheated death or at least serious injury at the hands of a mob:
All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way. – Luke 4:28-30
Then Jesus, still teaching in the temple courts, cried out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own, but he who sent me is true. You do not know him, but I know him because I am from him and he sent me.” At this they tried to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his time had not yet come. – John 7:28-30
Then came the Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah) at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. The Jews gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” “We are not stoning you for any of these,” replied the Jews, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are gods’? If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and the Scripture cannot be broken— what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does. But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp. – John 10:22-39
And at least once, He foiled an attempt to forcibly make Him an earthly king:
After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself. – John 6:14-15
Maybe His escapes were miraculous. Maybe they were, like the ordinary magic of Tolkein’s mythical hobbits, simply the ability to become less visible to mortals. Maybe they were the result of His supernatural knowledge of men’s hearts, well in advance of their intentions to act. I don’t have a clue.
What strikes me about all of these is that He chose to escape. It was up to Him.
And when it was His time, He chose to surrender.
After He had set His face resolutely toward Jerusalem; after He had told His closest friends that He would soon die; after He had washed their feet and celebrated a last Passover with them; after He had prayed in the Garden for the cup to pass from Him (if God would only will it); after He had flattened the crowd who came to arrest Him with His statement, I am; after He had invoked the escape clause for His friends, a few verses later … He surrendered.
He surrendered to the arrest, the imprisonment, the sham trials, the beatings, the humiliation, the torture, and the cross.
And on that cross, He surrendered His Spirit.
When it counted – when He knew it was the right time and what had to be done – He surrendered Himself to doing it, at the cost of everything. He took a leap of faith into the clutches of the enemy; the jaws of Death … and trusted God to deliver Him, and to deliver everyone else who would follow Him.
That may be the most dangerous thing for us to emulate about Him and to pray for in our own lives:
To know when it’s time.
To know what must be done.
To be willing to do it, at whatever cost.
With no escape clause.