April 6, 2022
And he said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough” (Luke 22:35-38).
In preparing the disciples for His death, does it seem strange that Jesus would speak these words? Is it odd that Jesus would talk about buying swords since He was not a violent Man, and He never encouraged the disciples to be violent men? In Gethsemane, Peter used his sword when the Temple guards came to arrest Jesus. But Jesus said, Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus? (Matthew 26:52-54). So, how are we to understand this?
Jesus was preparing the disciples for what lay ahead beyond His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. By referring to the time He sent them out to minister (Matthew 10:5-42), Jesus was encouraging the disciples again to depend completely on the Lord. On that occasion God provided for them everything they needed to do what Jesus asked. The past experience would motivate them again to put their faith in Him and in God. Why?
Before, Jesus sent them out for a short time, in their own country, among their own people. There was no need to prepare for an extended ministry. But now . . . the times have changed. After His ascension, the disciples would be led by the Holy Spirit to take the Gospel to the world and to strangers. They would face trials, dangers, and needs. The lesson learned before in their ministry tour would provide the impetus for the greater ministry that would take the rest of their lives. As the time drew near for Jesus to die, it was only fitting that He should prepare them for it and that they should prepare themselves for what was ahead.
What about the swords? Galilean pilgrims always took swords to defend themselves from wild animals or thieves. But Jesus did not tell the disciples to arm themselves with swords against oppressors. The sword was not to be used for defense, but for utility, like a pocket knife today. A sword would be useful to kill an animal for food, or to cut wood for a fire, or tent pegs, or cloth, or rope for clothing or tent material. That the disciples were still thinking of a military Messiah who would conquer Rome, or that the Gospel needed violent defense in a hostile world, is seen in their words, Look, Lord, here are two swords, as if two swords could defend them against a Roman legion. Ridiculous. Jesus’ response, It is enough, was not one of compliment, but of exasperation. It was as if He said, “Ok, you don’t get it. Were done talking about this.”
In the frailty of our human ignorance we often miss the higher meaning of spiritual truth. God help us to rise to a greater knowledge and wisdom of Your truth rather to depend on our own ‘conventional wisdom’. Amen.