During the temptation of Christ in the wilderness, Satan urges him to call on angels to catch him after a flying leap from the pinnacle of the temple. Jesus refuses, but when the devil leaves, “angels came and ministered to him.”

In the garden during the betrayal, Peter pulls out a sword and starts hacking away at the captors. Jesus stops him and reminds him that he could call on twelve legions of angels to save him. But he won’t do it of course. It’s another temptation. “Get behind me Satan” all over again.

Later, on the cross the crowd taunts him to get down himself, a task that I think would involve some more angels.

Apparently it is not for the Son of Man to command armies of angels during his time on earth. Notice what exactly he says to Peter in the garden, “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?” He would ask his father for them.

A host of angels present themselves to the shepherds at Jesus’ birth, but they were sent their by the father.

I think this is all because Jesus’ first advent was entirely peaceful. He enters Jerusalem riding on a donkey. He enters the world as a helpless infant. He has no army, only a few close friends. Someone commanding angels would be a general. He has denied himself that role from the start and isn’t about to pick it up out of order, though it must have been a distinct possibility or it wouldn’t be mentioned as a temptation.

It’s a temptation for Jesus to call on an army of angels NOW, because he really IS going to call on them later. “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.” At his second coming, he rides a while horse and brings the hosts of heaven with him. The sin would be to jump the gun. But he’s waiting until the fullness of time that more might be redeemed.