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The significance of the sword in Luke 22:36-52


Why did Jesus say to His disciples, "But now the one who has a purse must take it, and likewise a bag. And the one who has no sword must sell his cloak and buy one"?

Was it because things were going to be different from now on? Would they not find the same hospitality they had experienced on the first mission?
Did Jesus really want them to travel with a sword?
At a later time Matthew (26:52) tells us that Jesus said, "Put away your sword, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword."

The disciples said, "See, Lord, here are two swords."
"It is enough," he replied.

Two swords or daggers were enough for whatever Jesus had in mind? They certainly wouldn’t have been enough to win a physical battle against the soldiers with their long swords. He must have had another purpose in mind because he didn't tell them to put them away right then.

1. Jesus answered Pilate, "My Kingdom is not of this world. If my Kingdom were of this world, then my servants would fight, that I wouldn't be delivered to the Jews. But now my Kingdom is not from here" (John 18:36).
Did Jesus want the swords on hand to show a parable or give a lesson for his disciples and the soldiers about what kind of kingdom was His or how to wage war in His Kingdom? Jesus didn't use physical force to defend himself. This theme is repeated by Luke when he tells us that Jesus did not defend himself before Pilate.
"He (Herod) plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer." Luke 23:9
If it was a lesson, Peter didn’t learn it immediately. He defended himself by lying, but later we know that the martyrs boldly stood before authorities and trusted God with their physical lives.

The soldiers and disciples could see that Jesus' disciples had some physical tools to defend them and seeing the swords/daggers drawn might have been amazed that Jesus chose not to use them. The soldiers may have been amazed at Jesus’ words to His disciples to put them away, and also amazed that they obeyed Him, even in this life threatening situation. Perhaps they wondered, “What authority this man has among his disciles. They do what he says.”

Jesus' kingdom was not the visible one people were expecting to see, with human armies and all the paraphernalia human royalty display. It was very different. He didn't come just to make everyone live happily together even though peace was one of the things he did give his followers: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives"(John 14:27). He recognized his words would bring division even within families. He had said,"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword" (Matthew 10:34).
Maybe the sword He was referring to in this passage in Luke was the "sword of the Spirit," which divided. Maybe now was the time when people would need to choose. They would be divided because of Him. Later the disciples recognized that Jesus was a "stumbling block" to some (1 Corinthians 1:23).

2. Was the purpose just for fulfilling the prophecy about lawlessness?

And the one who has no sword must sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you, this scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered among the lawless’; and indeed what is written about me is being fulfilled.

The lawless were known for carrying daggers with them and the disciples had two very handy. What was in their heart? Peter’s use of the sword/dagger could be interpreted as a lawless act. He was resisting arrest, resisting Roman law so Jesus was numbered among the lawless disciples as well as when he was hung between two other prisoners. Was he wanting to show his disciples how lawless they were or maybe that He knew what was about to take place so they wouldn't be anxious but believe that he was the promised Messiah?

3. "Am I leading a rebellion that you have come with swords and clubs?"

How do you think the disciples felt when they heard Jesus say this? Perhaps it helped them to know who they were. Theirs was not a rebellion against Roman rule.
Did Jesus want an opportunity to let people know what His mission really was about?
“Bring the swords along and you will get a demonstration of what I am really about.”
The disciples had seen the angel strengthening Jesus but they still didn't understand the power that was His to command. They had seen the miracles and power He had over death when he raised Lazarus up, but what did they still need to learn?
Perhaps Jesus wanted to show everyone that things were not out of His control. Even in this dangerous situation He was about His Fathers business and not His own. Luke records that Jesus had just prayed "Not my will/passion be done but thine." Jesus continued doing His Fathers desire even when faced with death. Healing was a part of this ministry and so He healed the servant’s ear thus fulfilling other prophecies.
"He will heal the slain, and will resurrect the dead ..." (Part of a Scroll about the Messiah.)

4. Perhaps Jesus was saying "enough of that," like a colloquialism, not meaning that two swords were enough, but declining to enter into the discussion any further. Perhaps he was waiving the subject as Bengel's Gnomen suggests, or was it a sigh because of all violent measures?

5. What do you think of declarations? It is possible that Jesus wasn't speaking to His disciples at that time but speaking into the coming situation. He knew His Father's will and He allowed the sword to be present, just like He spoke to Judas that if he must do it, do to hastily. Judas didn't have more authority than Jesus. It was time for Jesus to go to the cross and He declared it in such a way that it had a double meaning. Who holds the sword? The sword of the Spirit or the sword of man? Who has that legitimate authority to allow or forbid?

Whatever the reason Jesus had for not telling the disciples to put the swords away earlier, there are things we can learn from this Palm Sunday account.

The theme of not taking the law into our own hands and not taking revenge is repeated in this and other bible passages. Let God be the Judge. Let Him defend you. Trust Him to do it. Our job is to be prepared by praying, as Jesus did in the garden, so that we wont be tempted to do things the way the world does, but know what our Fathers business is and no matter how difficult the situation, we are to be "about it." The will/passion of God as it is done in heaven is to be our will/passion too. It is to be done/fulfilled on earth, in our lives as long as we live.

There is also the idea of knowing the will of our heavenly Father so we can allow or disallow things to happen on earth. Jesus decalred it was time for those with the sword to take it up.

"Say to those with fearful hearts, "Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you. Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped." Isaiah 35:5

Point 5 added in 2019