What Does It Mean That Jesus Said to Sell a Cloak to Buy a Sword?

luke_22_36One of my readers, Nicole Soumokil Burleski, sent me this awesome question.   Considering the Second Amendment arguments happening today, I feel her question is quite relevant.  Here is  her question and my answer.

Nicole: “I have a bible question for you if you don’t mind! What are your thoughts in Luke 22:36 when Jesus told his disciples to sell their cloak for a sword and they came back with two swords? Is there any significance there?”

SLR: “Hi Nicole, thanks for the question. It is one I have been wanting to think through myself. After reading the verses before and after (to get the ever critical context), Jesus was new instructions during the Passover to the disciples. Here is the whole text:

35 Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?”

“Nothing,” they answered.

36 He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. 37 It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’[b]; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”

38 The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.”

“That’s enough!” he replied.

This was at the Passover Supper. He was to be arrested that very night. He said that he was to be numbered among the transgressors. To me, that means ‘criminals’. In other words, he was about to become, in the eyes of the law, a criminal. And as his followers, they would naturally also be called criminals and would now be hunted down by the authorities. Before, when Jesus sent them out, it was at the height of his popularity. He was performing miracles and everyone loved him. Even the Roman centurion considered Jesus to be greater than he, himself. At this time in Jesus’ ministry, Jews held out great hope that Jesus was indeed the Messiah who would literally gather an army and miraculously throw off the Roman rule. Therefore, when Jesus sent them out into the cities, he knew they would be welcomed with open homes, food, drink and would be treated very well by the People. They didn’t need a purse (money) or a sword for protection.

The Jews felt this way up until the Passover time. But Jesus knew what would happen to all their glee when he was arrested and when he would ‘disappoint’ them by not fighting back. Even today, the Jews believe that the Messiah will return but he will be a literal KING with wealth and a powerful army. Jesus’ ‘weakness’ is what makes him false in their eyes. They would suddenly think he was nothing more than a deceiver who had gotten their hopes so high only to realize that he had duped them. They would think, based on their earlier visions of what a Messiah would look like and be like, that he was only a man. And a highly flawed man at that. A false, horribly blasphemous messiah that deserved death.

Therefore, Jesus knew they would no longer be welcomed into anyone’s home or city. No one would offer them a home, food, drink- nor would they be kind. In fact, Jesus knew that they would be violently attacked for continuing to spread his ‘blasphemous’ message. That he was the Son of God. Therefore, they would indeed need money, along with a bag for their blankets & supplies- and a sword for protection. But note that he said that only two swords were enough. While it is important to protect ourselves, I believe his point was that we are not to be militant. We are not to use them in OFFENSE.  Rather, defense.  And only under the most dire circumstances. Only two swords for twelve disciples! So, the message is this: the world is now hostile for Christians. We need to go out into the world prepared. Money, provision and self protection are all needed. But the focus should be on spreading God’s word without violence when possible. But if you must defend yourself, then do so. Jesus was very pragmatic about this, I think.”

Thoughts?

34 comments

  1. The otherwise wonderful church I attend unfortunately tends too strongly toward the literal and towards extreme pacifism. So here, they are in trouble. Christ clearly instructed his followers to be LIGHTLY armed but armed nevertheless. Yes, the figurative part was intended to give them a vivid impression that trouble was ahead. But one can not tell someone to arm themselves without the implication that he is approving the use of deadly force in SOME circumstances. Here we see the wonderful paradox of true Christianity which always looks to the spiritual without denying the practical necessities of living in the physical world. Unlike Muslims, the weapons with which we spread our faith “are not carnal. ” But the ones we use to defend ourselves against wicked men who might break through our front doors at night, ARE. So, sell your sport coat if you must. Then go to your local gun store and shop AR 15s. “Two” should be “enough”.

    • Interesting. Well, I’m not sure about that. When Peter fought in self defense for Christ’s sake, Christ rebuked him and healed the priest’s ear. But I don’t believe that God would deny us the right to truly defend ourselves. In Peter’s case, no one was actually going to kill Jesus or Peter right there and then. Also, Jesus had a mission to specifically die on the cross and he wouldn’t let anyone stand in the way. So, that situation was a little different than most. I know I feel no restriction from protecting myself or family from predators who wish to harm us. But may I caution you on those AR15? Just make sure they really are for defense? Many people will use such verses as justification to buy these and then use them for other purposes. Just make sure your motives and heart are truly clean before God, ok?

      • Hi SLR! have followed or checked your site for years now, really enjoy your posts, I visit as often as I can, so much to keep up with these days. your page/post popped up as I was doing a search on the * sell cloak and buy a sword * It came up during a church study group during which I made a comment that maybe the commandment should say you shall not murder * instead of * you shall not kill. Happy to see you have addressed this issue. I did see another page that suggested that when they told Jesus that they had two swords, when he said “it is enough” he may have been saying, if they will not listen to me, then two swords will be enough. Because if Jesus were to directly tell me to buy a sword, just knowing someone who had one would not be enough. I would want one for myself.
        Bill

  2. There were two swords handy. Later, Peter lopped off a man’s ear with his sword during the scuffle which ensued on the occasion of Jesus’ arrest. The fact that weapons were present and in possession of the very men who lived with Christ for several years could not have escaped the notice of our Master. Ergo weapons were condoned.

    To hear the Pope state this year that owning a gun disqualifies a person as a Christian was disappointing for many Catholics I’m sure. The “infallible” head of their church is just a man after all.

    • Jay, this Pope is a very corrupt man. I have no doubt that he is confounding and confusing many Catholics out there. What worries me, however, are the crowds of adoring fans that swamp him everywhere he goes. They still blindly follow him just for the office he holds. Catholics have been trained to blindly follow ‘the Pope’, no matter who the man is. This is exactly why Jesus instructed us to never call anyone, “Father.” He commanded us that we consider each other equal under God- we are all brothers and sisters. No one is more ‘godly’ than another, more holy than another. No man is able to be elevated over another- we are brothers and sisters to Christ, who is the first born of all God’s Children. When we lift up a man as far as the Catholics have raised the Pope, we create an idol. And when satan inevitably enters that idol, he will lead them all astray. This Pope has turned the Catholic church on its collective ear- overturning precepts its held for centuries. Of course, that is why Hollywood, the homosexual community and the progressives adore him. He doesn’t just stand against the 2nd Amendment, Jay, he stands against the very notion that the United States should even exist as a sovereign nation. I want you to think about that for a moment. Don’t be concerned about the small potatoes here! He doesn’t believe nations should exist at all anymore. He believes that the UN should be the ONLY government with all countries obeying IT as the central government of the world. AND he stated that the Catholic church is to be the ONLY church, the central church- the only TRUE church for the entire world. He calls on, not only all Catholics, but all citizens in the world, to obey his call. He is not shy about his call, he is outright, outspoken and completely bald and bold in these proclamations. His predecessor attempted to make the same pronouncements but he couched them in softer words- not this guy. He calls for them blatantly. He uses the vehicle of Global Warming to accomplish his end, but Global Warming is just the Trojan Horse. So, please don’t worry about your 2nd Amendment rights with this Pope. Worry that he is calling on all Catholics (who blindly follow him) to commit high treason- and remember: soldiers, politicians, bureaucrats and civilians all throughout our nation are Catholics.

      • Spot on! Short Little Rebel. I especially like the comment about calling anyone Father, their long winded explanations for disobeying Our Lords simple command would not be needed, if they simply obeyed. Also Catholics do follow blindly, however the real Trojan horse is the infiltration of all nations by the Muslims, and nothing compares with this enemy of Christianity inculcated at a very early age.

      • Hi Edward, sorry for taking so long to actually reply to your comment. I’ve been thinking about just how bad the consequences have become from failing to listen to Christ concerning calling anyone, ‘Father.’ When I look at this new pope now saying that homosexuality and abortion are not that big of a deal and that countries need to start giving up their sovereignty to the United Nations slowly but surely, I see just how dangerous the Pope really is. Half the world calls him, ‘Father.’ They literally worship him as if he is God on earth. Have you noted the upcoming movie called, “The Pope”, starring Jude Law? It shows a young, powerful Pope taking the world over by storm. Of course, we are all supposed to think of him as the Beast or the Second Beast in the movie. But Hollywood has long had a tongue in cheek attitude toward its audience. Hollywood is full of powerful Progressives who know full well what the Progressive politicians are doing and why they are doing it. They understand the Progressive plan to consolidate power into a central government and place themselves as its leaders, of course. The Pope is part of this plan- as he demonstrated during his last speech to the world (a first time ever occurrence- Popes historically only speak to Catholics). So, for Hollywood to produce a film like, ‘The Pope’ is yet another joke on us. Hollywood has been producing films like, “Wag the Dog”, “Equilibrium”, “Mockingjay”, etc for years now. All showing the near future where the government has taken away the rights of the people, implanted chips or chemicals to control them and is using Hollywood to stage massive propaganda to manipulate politics. Isn’t it funny that with NDAA 2012, U.S. government propaganda in ANY form has become 100% LEGAL against U.S. citizens and its allies??? And almost NO ONE even realizes it? And isn’t it funny that it was ‘passed’ right when the attack happened on Benghazi? (the true motive for Benghazi, in case anyone really wants to know.)

        When mankind disobeys God, there will be consequences. When mankind disobeys God, it is ALWAYS for the purpose of EVIL. The catholic church disobeyed so long ago when they set up their priesthood BECAUSE THEY WANTED POWER. Simple. And now, they are ready to pounce upon the world once more. I’ve lost quite a few readers for my comments about the Pope- such is the loyalty to this MAN. Such is the worship of this man. It makes me sad. I’m pretty sure I lost my best friend over him and over the comments I have made against him. She is a devout Catholic. I never hear from her anymore. It makes me so sad in the heart. But we must warn people about the truth, mustn’t we, Edward? I actually think the Pope will do far more harm than the Muslims will ever do. They can kill only so many people. But the Pope can bring real political change. He can make it so that Christians are left stranded, outside of the system and truly facing a situation that looks just like the Mark described like the Bible says: unable to buy and sell. No amount of terrorists can accomplish that.

  3. There are some interpretations that suggest His comment or reply “That is enough.”, is not referring to the two swords, but rather a wrap up to the discussion (sarcasm, disgust?) because His disciples were not really getting it.
    It is also possible that, if referring to the swords, His meaning was that 2 swords were enough for one man, implying wisdom in redundancy or having a back up. It could also have been pure sarcasm, that sure, two ought to do it!
    Another view could be that in order to fulfil prophecy, that He would be concidered a criminal, and to ensure His arrest, they needed to look the part, and a couple weapons would help accomplish that.

  4. Um, I must point out, Yeshua also WHIPPED the moneychangers, so he was NOT 100% against violence. Just 99%. So there’s that

    • Spare the rod and spoil the child ay, you see it as violence and God saw it as punishment/Correction for their evil, far better to be hit with a lash or two of the whip, then to fall into eternal hell.

      • no doubt. People have trouble with imagining eternity. That’s the problem. ‘Eternity’ is just too big a concept for most people. It is a big problem for me. We can conceive that a ten year prison sentence is terrible, but we can’t envision an eternity of being locked out of LIFE and heaven. It’s too big, and so we just bar the thought altogether. It doesn’t touch us. We then go back to evaluating the moment only. And all we see is the child yelling as they get a swat. But the Bible doesn’t lie when it says that only the parent who hates their child fails to discipline them. Disciplining or spanking your child is the hardest thing a loving mother or father does. Personally, I detest it. But I see it as part of my job. Consequently, my children are courteous, respectful and honoring of God. They love their parents, their siblings, their friends and their teachers. They don’t do drugs, alcohol and are in no rush to have sex or date. We have kept them from pornographic t.v. & cable- and even video games that promote these things. We don’t homeschool, so they do see the world in all its nastiness- and yet, are able to be happy but withstand the forces about them. The parents’ hand must be firm to guide them through the moral frakus that is our world, yet even more loving to ensure them that there is no problem, no error that they can make (ie, drugs, alcohol, pregnancy, sexual disease- anything) that can separate them from our love. This is how God loves and disciplines us also. But no doubt about it: firm discipline must be a part of that love. It prevents many of the errors in the first place. And that, my friend, IS love.

  5. The instructions are literal and general: “The one who doesn’t have a sword, must sell his cloak to buy one.”
    The two swords being enough were enough for the occasion, but his instruction to them to buy swords and carry swords stands without later contradiction. Note, when it is appointed for Christ to lay down his life, he instructs them to put their swords back in their sheaths—not to throw them away and have nothing more to do with swords. The purpose of carrying swords for them was obviously not to defend the faith, but to defend against general lawlessness and to defend the helpless against lawlessness. It would be quite normal to carry a sword for deterrent and defense against lawless men in everyday life (especially at night as they were about to go outside the walls of the city). If we don’t see any further mention of Christians carrying swords in the New Testament, it’s not because they didn’t; its because the New Testament doesn’t record most everyday life practices.

    Now most take Jesus’ “all who take hold of the sword will die by the sword” as a rebuke against his disciple, but Matthew is the only one to record this statement. Moreover, both in Matthew and in the other gospels Jesus rebukes the crowd for coming against him and his disciples with swords and clubs at night—not his disciples. So who’s being rebuked and warned the most here?
    In fact there’s something interesting about the way Jesus responds to the mob in Mark:
    And Jesus said to them, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But let the Scriptures be fulfilled.”
    “BUT let Scripture be fulfilled.” In Matthew Jesus says he’s quite able if not willing to call for “twelve legions of angels” in his own defense. “BUT let Scripture be fulfilled.” People just assume Jesus is a pacifist in all occasions and wants his disciples to be pacifists in all occasions too, but the Gospels consistently records only one reason that He, his angels, and his disciples should stand down in the face of an armed mob at night: That Scripture might be fulfilled in his trial, torment, and crucifixion, and resurrection—not for Christians to lie down and be trampled for any and every purpose this world would like to abuse them and abuse their neighbors.

    • In my view you are isolating that verse and forgetting who Jesus was, what was His message. I think you are also trying to reveal what Jesu’s real intentions were. Of course anybody has a right of self-defence, however your interpretation is conflicting with other passages about Jesus. Also the fact that you state that others assume Jesus was a pacifist is troubling. Jesus, never incited war in the way we understand war is with physical harm, weapons, etc.

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