Packing Light

35 And He said to them, “When I sent you out without money belt and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?” They said, “No, nothing.” 36 And He said to them, “But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one. 37 For I tell you that this which is written must be fulfilled in Me, ‘And He was numbered with transgressors’; for that which refers to Me has its fulfillment.” 38 They said, “Lord, look, here are two swords.” And He said to them, “It is enough.” Luke 22:35-38

This passage is difficult to interpret according to numerous commentators. Since it is so, I don’t want to get too far afield either. There’s probably a simple message here reading the plain text, and that’s what I’ve set out to receive. We know that Jesus sent out the disciples previously with nothing and they “lacked nothing” (Luke 9:3). Their interactions were divinely arranged and they were armed with instructions in the event they encountered rejection. Jesus was on the ground at the time and there seemed to be no threat of physical danger due to violence.

Here Jesus contrasts those early gospel missions with those to come when he’s absent. Then “the Way” as it was to be called would be met with derision. Its “members” would go underground with shibboleths and signs for entry into hiding places and would need to live on the run. Jesus describes here three essentials in addition to the cloak on their backs to survive; money kept in a belt, a traveling bag, and a dagger. These items to me are nothing unusual and perfectly understandable. The dagger was not the sword of a soldier, but a useful tool also capable of providing self defense in dire situations. He says having one would be a worthy investment.

It should not be lost on us that if Jesus was counted among the transgressors (verse 37), they too would be treated like criminals. As Luke records in his second work, Acts of the Apostles, they were hunted down by the likes of Paul preceding his dramatic conversion (Acts 22:5).

As usual, the disciples, as we typically are, were on a different plane than Jesus, announcing they had identified two “swords” amongst them. Here’s where there is the most disagreement, in the Lord’s response “It is enough.” It is safe to say in this instance, knowing that Jesus would call out Peter hours later for striking the servant with a sword during his arrest, and Paul would warn Christians to obey those who carry the real swords (Romans 13:4), that they would not fight their way out of anything. “It is enough” can be taken in our vernacular as “enough of this.”

In this age, we’re immediately on Amazon trying to find the very best leather bag to take and identifying the credit card to use on the road, and perhaps contemplating the need for personal protection. Enough of this!

Gospel readiness is instructed by the Word, illumined by the Spirit, instilled by faith, and instituted by prayer. It’s an “in season, out of season,” kind of thing. (2 Timothy 4:2) And if we need armor—and we most certainly do—it’s described in detail in Ephesians 6:10-18.

About Rick Reynolds

You'll find me in the far right hand corner of evangelical Christianity. Been studying the Word for nearly 45 years and counting.
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