Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Word for Wednesday, February 17

A short passage from Luke chapter 22 (verses 35 - 38):
And He said to them, "When I sent you out without purse and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?" And they said, "No, nothing." And He said to them, "But now, let him who has a purse take it along, likewise also a bag, and let him who has no sword sell his robe and buy one. For I tell you, that this which was written must be fulfilled in Me, 'And He was numbered with transgressors;' for that which refers to Me has its fulfillment." And they said to Him, "Lord, look, here are two swords." And He said to them, "It is enough."
This is one of those passages that I've read a bunch of times, but have never really understood; nor do I think I understand it now. The passage Jesus quotes is about His upcoming crucifixion. It seems clear to me that He isn't telling His disciples to take up arms to prevent His death, since He has insisted that it is necessary, and we know that He stopped a disciple who did use a sword to try to prevent His arrest. By comparing this instruction with the different one He gave them the last time He "sent them out," I think He's saying that they will be separated from Him again, with all the danger and hardship that it implies. I'm tempted to say that the instruction to be armed is a symbolic way of warning them of their upcoming dangers and hardships ... except that, when a disciple says look here, we've got two swords, Jesus doesn't say, Have you been with Me so long, and still understand nothing? That is, He doesn't rebuke them for their foolish literalism; instead, He casually endorses it, saying, "It is enough."

I'm tentatively convinced that Jesus's words are carrying meaning on multiple levels here, and I merely lack the ears to hear those deeper levels; however, I see no indication that their surface, plain meaning is to be disregarded. For now, then, I think this passage belongs in the "yes, believers can -- and perhaps should -- be armed" file.

Click here for more Words for Wednesday.


akaGaGa said...

This one has always puzzled me, too. Given that it's right after Peter's declaration that he was willing to die with Jesus, and Jesus' response that Peter would deny him three times, I'm tempted to think it's related to putting our faith in ourselves (as Peter did) or in "stuff" like swords and purses, instead of putting our faith in Jesus.

I'm thinking of the parable of the talents:

"His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.' (Matthew 25:23)

When we learn to have faith in Jesus, then He gives us other tools, knowing that we've been tested and won't rely on them, instead of Him.

But as you so succinctly put it on my post, my opinion is "worth every cent you paid for it!"

P.S. I'll give you one point for carrying a weapon.

The Other Alice said...

I have been following your WFWs on this topic, for it is very similar to the study I am trying to work out. All I can say at this point is something I was just reminded of. I grew up in a Christian environment, but it was the story of men who had guns, but CHOSE not to use them to kill those who in turn killed them-- that led me to the foot of the Cross, and I was converted. So all I can say is though the world looks at such people as foolish, there may be one person who looks at that life and sees the immense love of Jesus. For some of us, showing the love of Jesus is being just and humble towards our own family and aquaintances, or by baking a pie for somebody or mowing their lawn. Simple Christian love can convert a soul. If that love is directed toward someone who does not deserve it, isn't that just what Jesus did? It took years for me to realize the gospel; I saw it in five men who laid their lives down without hesitation. It is not that they chose to die exactly, but that they chose to let someone else live, because he is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what can NEVER be lost.

Just wanted to add my personal input from experience. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing your studies with us; it is good to learn with other believers.

Jim Wetzel said...

aka: yes, I think one point's just about right.

Other Alice: thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, and for your kind words. Sorry it took a while to post your comment; I've not been online much.