Listen:  

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Let’s begin by reading Luke 22:35-36, “And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing. Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.”  The scene here is very sobering.  The Lord had been with His disciples for a little over three years.  While He was with them, He sent them out to perform different ministries.  They went out carrying nothing, and they did not lack for anything.  But, now, the Lord is preparing His disciples to carry on without His physical presence.  He had just instituted the Lord’s Supper with His disciples and is about to go into the Garden of Gethsemane to pray.  From there, He would be betrayed by Judas and crucified.  Things would be different without His physical presence, so the disciples should be prepared.

While it is proper that all who go out to serve the Lord should go in faith that the Lord will provide their needs, it is also proper to take along the provisions the Lord has given to sustain in these journeys.  Let them take a purse with money in it to buy needed provisions.  Let them take a scrip, or literally a pouch for food to take with them.  The Lord then tells His disciples, that if need be, sell your garments, or outer coats, and buy a sword to take with them.  He shows how important it would be for them to have a sword, even if they had to sell their clothes to get one.

Herein lies the difficulty: does the Lord expect us to arm ourselves in case we are in danger while doing the work of the Lord? Let’s consider a few of the Lord’s remarks.  Matthew 26:51-52 says, “And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear. Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.”  The Lord teaches us in Matthew 5:39, “But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.”  In Matthew 5:44 the Lord says, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”

As stated previously, the Lord was now sending His disciples into a dangerous, violent world.  They were to expect persecution and hostility.  Would it be proper to use physical weapons to defend themselves against their persecutors?  Would using physical weapons against their enemies contradict the Lord’s teachings?

Let’s carefully consider Luke 22:38-39 which says, “And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough. And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him.”  Upon the Lord’s words about swords, the disciples presented the Lord with two swords, to which He said, “It is enough.”  He didn’t say, “Those are enough”; he said, “It is enough.”  The Lord is giving a slight rebuke, telling them that that was enough talk about actual swords.  Besides, would two swords be enough for eleven disciples?  This is certainly not the first time the Lord used physical items to teach spiritual lessons.  This wasn’t the first time the disciples mistook the Lord’s lessons as purely physical lessons.

The lesson to the disciples, and to us, is that we are living in a dangerous world, full of violence, persecution, and sin.  We need to be prepared.  We need to learn to equip ourselves with basic necessities, not be taken up with all the pleasures and riches of the world.  If need be, we should sell our possessions to buy necessities.  If the Lord is not talking about a real, physical sword, what then is He talking about?  I think most of us are familiar with Hebrews 4:12 which says, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”  My friends, it is so important that we have our Bibles, and know how to use them “…for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” as we read in 2 Timothy 3:16.  (114.3)