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
Let’s continue to add to the evidence before we come to conclusions.
I posed the question yesterday, is Jesus seriously suggesting the disciples sell their coats and take up the sword? What happened about loving your enemies and turning the other cheek, going the extra mile? If He is indeed telling the disciples to take up the sword, it is a complete reversal of what He taught them to this point. The text of what Jesus said, assumes the disciples have no swords. Either way, it seems the object is to possess a sword. The person who has money to purchase one is to do so. The one who has no sword and no money to buy a sword, is to sell their coat in order tobuy one. In either case, the object of the exercise is to obtain a sword. Thus it must be of high priority if one is to sell their cloak in order to get a sword.
How are we to interpret this?
- Jesus meant it literally: The sword is for defense, not for attack. They will need it for protection in the times which are coming upon them. It is going to be worth more to them than their outer coat. I.e. Better to die from the cold than to be put to death by the sword of your enemies.
- Jesus meant it ironically: The present situation and their reactions are contrasted with irony to the previous time of His provision. He is reminding them that they lacked nothing before when they went out like lambs among the wolves (the sending of the 12 and the 72).But now they seem ready to abandon the principles of God in order to do what it takes.Ok if that is the way you want it, then “sell your clothes and buy swords, go and join the rebels (the Zealots) to accomplish God’s purposes.
- Jesus meant it metaphorically: Some think that Jesus has a tendency to use violent metaphors at times to make His point. (e.g. Taking the Kingdom by force) but in this case his disciples take Him literally. There are those who think this element is in the text in order to explain the use of the sword later in the Garden of Gethsemane.
The sense is not that the disciples are ready to join the rebels en masse. Although some, like Simon the Zealot, may have had that tendency. The quote above reads, “He was counted among the rebels.” It is taken from Isaiah 53:12 where the sense as seen from the various versions is as follows:
- (AMP) regarded as a criminal and numbered with the transgressors
- (CEV) thought to be a sinner
- (GNB) shared the fate of evil men
- (GW) counted with sinners
- (LITV) counted with those transgressing
- (MSG) embraced the company of the lowest
- (NLT) counted among the rebels
Neither Jesus nor the disciples had joined the rebels or revolutionaries. Rather some of the crowd considered Him and his disciples to be rebels or insurrectionists as a result of the Pharisees and religious leaders stirring up the crowds. While others may have considered them as such, it was not in fact the case.
So how are we to view Jesus’ concluding comments to the disciples disclosure that they have two swords among them? It is clear the disciples did in fact have two swords among them. Why? It may well have been for protection against robbers and criminals they may encounter on their journeys in rural areas. There are some who don’t agree that the disciples had swords in their possession and seek to explain it away, but not convincingly. It is not a problem to me, having lived in Indonesian villages where the parang (or machete, effectively a sword) is a daily necessity of life on the trail or in the bush as a work tool, or for protection against animal and/or human attack. The fact that the disciples had two swords is not the issue. More to the point, what does Jesus say about it?
“That’s enough.” – How are we to interpret this statement?
Jesus’ meaning is either
- referring to the swords, that two are enough. We don’t need more than two between the twelve of us. Not great odds if attacked by heavily armed robbers. Most see that two swords were not sufficient for their need to be armed. One commentator even sees this as being necessary to fulfill Scripture but I don’t know of any Scripture this relates to.
- “enough of this discussion about swords”. Inference being — “That’s enough of this sort of talk. You won’t be needing swords.” This would have come with an element of rebuke to the disciples for straying into this topic of discussion. Not much different from their deviation into who among them was the greatest, when Jesus told them there was a traitor in their midst.
Oh, how easily we miss the point. This is just one example of the tendency of the disciples to miss the point or to stray into forbidden territory. As I indicated in the previous Gem, I can’t accept that Jesus has suddenly abandoned His previous three years of teaching to deliver a short, concluding statement condoning the use of violence in bringing in the coming Kingdom. It makes no sense. Rather, I believe the explanation lies between the two poles of this conversation. Jesus is reminding them that they needed nothing the first time they went out. All their needs were supplied. He brings up the ironic use of them selling their cloaks to purchase swords, perhaps because it was in their minds or on their tongues. After all, they had two swords among them at that point in time. However, Jesus concludes this discussion on the matter by making it clear to them this was not the way the Kingdom was going to be brought in. “Enough of that. We will have no more talk about the use of the swords.” This is further reinforced, as we will see, when we come to Luke 22:49-51.
Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth!Anon
The world is a dangerous place. Not because of people who are evil, but because of people who don’t do anything about it?Rick Godwin
We think to never disagree is to be Christlike. In fact, it’s the ability to disagree without stripping someone of dignity that is Christlike.James MacPherson
The fact that our heart yearns for something Earth can’t supply, is proof that Heaven must be our home.C. S. Lewis