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God’s Word for You

Luke 22:35-36 buy a sword

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, April 2, 2019

35 He said to them, “When I sent you out without a purse, bag, or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.”  36 He said to them, “But now, if anyone has a purse, take it, and likewise a bag. And anyone who has no sword must sell his cloak and buy one.

What does this mean? Jesus was warning his dear friends that although he had been providing for them through the support given to him (Mark 15:41) and through many miracles, there was a time coming when they would need to look after themselves in more ordinary ways. His grace and blessing would always be with them, and he would always answer their prayers, but they would now need a purse or a bag. They would need to provide for themselves, as Paul did when he worked making or mending tents in Corinth (Acts 18:1-2).

More than this, there would be times when Christians would need to physically defend themselves. Paul traveled through dangerous places. As one commentator put it, “This matter of having a sword even at the price of a cloak becomes plain when we look at the map and at 2 Corinthians 11:26-27.”  The cloak Jesus is talking about is the one that became a blanket when one was traveling or spending the night outdoors. It’s almost shocking to think that a sword would be preferable even to the protection of a cloak, but the point the Lord is making is that they would at least need to wear a sword (as a deterrent) and there might be times when they would need protection from attacks. In the Old Testament, this was especially true in the days of the conquest under Joshua (Joshua 6:21), in the days of the Judges (Judges 3:16) and in the days of the Kingdom under Saul (1 Samuel 13:22) and David (2 Samuel 23:9).

We should be careful not to allegorize this purse, bag, and sword. Jesus means what he says. The messengers of God need to use common sense when they spread the gospel. That doesn’t mean that in our society a pastor can or even should own or arm himself with a weapon. But pastors need to be cautious with their lives. They must not assume that they are indestructible. Stephen would be stoned to death. Paul would be beaten and left for dead. The prophets of old were murdered by the people within the walls of Jerusalem itself (Luke 13:33; 2 Chronicles 24:21). If, in those times, a sword could parry a blow that would enable an apostle to live another day, then it was worth carrying. If, in their culture, the money of a purse could buy food or bribe a crooked gatekeeper, then it was worth carrying. If a bag could be used to discretely transport Paul’s epistles from city to city, it was worth having. If, in our time, we can support mission work in a country which is officially opposed to Christianity, then it would be wise to be careful about our support, and especially how we talk about it in public (such as on social media, or in a published devotion like this one).

The word of Christ is always worth carrying, but there are many hardships and dangers in the sinful, fallen world. “No one knows what is coming,” Solomon says (Ecclesiastes 10:14), and governments may make “unjust laws and oppressive decrees” that are not favorable to the spread of the gospel (Isaiah 10:1). But we want to be prepared for any opportunity to share the word of Christ, the message of forgiveness, always remembering to ask for that same forgiveness for ourselves.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

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