Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you out to preach the Good News and you did not have money, a traveler’s bag, or extra clothing, did you need anything?” “No,” they replied. “But now,”He said, “take your money and a traveler’s bag. And if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one! For the time has come for this prophecy about Me to be fulfilled: ‘He was counted among the rebels.’ Yes, everything written about Me by the prophets will come true.” “Look, Lord,” they replied, “we have two swords among us.” “That’s enough.” He said.Luke 22:35-38
Did you catch the flashback I referred to? Jesus is referring to a specific occasion when he said, “When I sent you out to preach the Good News . . . ” Did it remind you of what we have covered already? Do you remember? There were two occasions to choose from. The first starts in Luke 9:2 and the verses that follow and the second begins in Luke 10:3 following. We covered this in Gem 897 and Gem 938. The reference Jesus makes appears to be more strongly linked to the second option anyway. Both relate to the comments made to the disciples about what to take when he sent them out to share the Good News. The first time He was speaking to the twelve disciples, the second time He was speaking to the 72. The items in Luke’s second list (10:3 ff) appear to fit the context of this list better than the list recorded in Luke 9:2 ff. Hence the list of items not to take listed in Luke 10:3 ff becomes now a list of things to take. In verse 36, Jesus said, “But now take your money and bag, in fact take your cloak because rather than keeping it with you to keep away the cold, you may well need it as collateral so that you can trade it in to buy a sword.” Really, why would they need swords?
Notice Jesus question at the end of the list. The last time they were told not to take anything. Inference, God would provide all their needs. Jesus asks them the question, “Did you need anything?” The question is introduced with the Greek particle “mē” [μή] which requires or expects the answer “No”. It is possibly best translated as the English tag question, “At that time you didn’t need anything, did you?” Using the tag question “Did you?” with the negative statement “You didn’t need anything” requires the answer “No”. If you want the positive answer “yes”, make the statement positive. “At that time you found out you needed help, didn’t you?” To which you would reply, “Yes, I did?” The same thing is happening here. Jesus is leading them to the conclusion that all their needs were met.
So what has changed? Two things. Jesus has already told the disciples that there is tribulation ahead. People will not be so favorable and supportive of them in the future. From now on He, Jesus, is going to be counted among the rebels. He has told them already, that if they persecute the Master, then they will persecute the followers as well. Hard times of persecution are ahead. So now they will need to be looking out for themselves and not relying on other people to support their ministry in Jesus name. The times of the favour of the crowd are at an end.
But something else has changed too. The time has come for all the prophecies about Messiah to be fulfilled, although in this case He only quotes one, Isaiah 53:12. He will be counted among the rebels, regarding as a criminal, numbered with transgressors and treated as such. There is another inference included here as well. I am going to be taken and killed. We know the context of this passage well. Isaiah 53 is all about the crucifixion and the death of the Messiah. Jesus has told the disciples He was going away and where I go you can’t follow me – at this time. Jesus is going to be taken out of the equation for a season. So that changes the dynamics of the provision of the disciples needs substantially. But hang on a minute Ian, what about the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit is the helper who was coming to replace Jesus. That is the situation we live in these days. Jesus is not physically with us but the Holy Spirit lives within us. We face this situation everyday. True, but at this stage the Holy Spirit had not yet been given. There was coming a time when Jesus would taken from them, before the Holy Spirit was poured out. So they were going to find themselves in a period of time in history when there would be no divine presence. Now that is a significant lack.
This is the last conversation Jesus has with the disciples as such. One would think that what He had to say to them as his parting words would have been significant. The last words of someone before they go are usually poignant and full of meaning. We want to make sure we get our point across clearly because we are not going to see them again. Hence “final words’ are important. On the surface of it Jesus appears to be saying to the disciples that He will be taken and killed. So the best thing for them to do is to arm themselves. Use all the means you can to arm yourselves men. When it comes down to it even be prepared to sell your cloak that you wrap around you on cold nights. It is that important; it’s a matter of life and death. My death and your life (survival). Do what you have to do to stay alive. Selling your cloak in order to buy a sword was a pretty serious action to take. The cloak or overcoat was a necessary piece of clothing to keep you warm at night, especially if you no longer had a roof over your head. It was likely that the disciples would become social outcasts, so the coat would be an essential piece of clothing.
Is that really what Jesus is saying? Is Jesus seriously suggesting the disciples sell their coats and take up the sword? That seems to run contrary to all He taught them to date. What happened about loving your enemies and turning the other cheek, going the extra mile? Has that all gone by the wayside now that the circumstances have changed? It all sounds a lot like situational ethics to me. As I told you in the preceding Gem, there are some who interpret this passage to mean a call to arms. Take up the sword and defend yourselves. If that is what He is telling the disciples, it is a complete reversal of what He taught them to this point.
It is time to take stock of what we have just read and the assumptions we have made before we draw our conclusions. Weigh all the input and evidence before you sell your coat and buy a sword. Is there another way of looking at it?
Just because you are struggling does NOT mean you are failing. Every great success requires some kind of struggle to get there!Rick Godwin
You can’t control everything. Sometimes you just need to relax and have faith that it will work out.Efva Adryana
Faith is that strength, that secret weapon of the soul, which allows us to persevere even when facts seem damning and the truth unbearable.T D Jakes
Even if I have a problem that lasts my entire life it is only temporary.Rick Warren
Don’t worry about the future, worry if you don’t walk in God’s will.Alvi Radjagukguk