Buy a swordA reader asks about Luke 22:36-38 where Christ tells his followers to sell their cloak to buy a sword. What follows seems best to me. In 22:35 he reminds them of earlier days when he sent them out without provisions. There was little danger then and the people would not only give them a hearing, they would see to their needs because they were proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom of God. But times have changed, the fairly patient Romans would soon see Jesus as a threat and crucify him and the religious leaders of the Jewish nation would sacrifice Christ and anybody aligned with him to preserve their place and nation.
This should not have come as a surprise—though as slow as the disciples were (and are) it’s no surprise that it came as a surprise. He had told them in earlier days that he hadn’t come to bring peace but "a sword" (see Matthew 10:34-39). Though the Christ knew days like that were coming he sent them out on an earlier mission journey in relative safety. Now the critical hour is approaching and Isaiah 53 would be fulfilled, the shepherd would be smitten and the sheep would be scattered.
In telling them to sell their cloak (an important garment for shelter against the elements in travel) and buy a sword he was telling them that the relatively easy work was done; now it would be all out war with Satan and all that adopted his agenda. They would have to fight for their lives. He isn’t speaking of a literal fight with swords. He assured Pilate that his kingdom was not "of the world". That is, it wasn’t established by force or deceit or war. He said his kingdom was not of this world and that if it were "then my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews." A kingdom of the world would lead to swordplay and other things but that wasn’t the nature of Christ’s reign (John 18:36). And when Peter produced one to do just that Christ rebuked him and healed the wounded servant (Luke 22:49-51). If there was to be killing done it was not to be done by the disciples of Christ because he sent them out as sheep among wolves and told them not to be afraid of those that killed the body (Matthew 10:16,28).
When in Luke 22:38 the disciples produced two swords Christ had no more to say. Either he is shaking his head in semi-despair or less affected by it he sees that there’s little point in saying any more. At this distance we think he could have been plainer but hindsight is always 20/20. He had told them repeatedly that he was going to be killed but they couldn’t understand him why would we think that he could get them to understand the nature of his and their mission?
©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.