Scott Lencke – Misunderstanding Jesus: If You Don’t Have a Sword, Sell Your Cloak and Buy One

Lake Cross

We welcome Scott Lencke today. He blogs at The Prodigal Thought. Scott also has a book coming this fall with Wipf & Stock, called Change for the First Time, Again, and a side project at the book’s website, where you can join in and share your own story of change.

• • •

There’s much talk these days (and these decades) about second amendment rights in the U.S., the particular amendment that focuses on the right to bear arms. For those Christians who champion this right, one obvious goal is to find biblical support for the claim.

Many times, there is a naive perspective floating around that says something like this: “God said it; I believe it; that settles it.” If God “said it” in his word (the keyword being “it,” referring to bearing arms), then we are now authorized to practice it.

One of the main go-to Scripture passages for those who promote the private right to bear arms (and use those arms) is found in Jesus’ words in Luke 22:

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’; 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.

The highlighted portion contains the most important of words.

But what is really going on in the text here?

For starters, as we refer to it, this is Christ’s “passion week.” Jesus has just had his “last supper” with his closest friends and now he is to be betrayed by the infamous, Judas Iscariot. This is all headed towards the greatest act of self-sacrificial love ever known to humanity – the crucifixion of God’s son and messiah.

Jesus has just reminded his friends about an earlier expedition he had sent them on. In preparation, he had told them not to take purse, bag or sandals. Standing before his disciples now, he asks a simple question – Did you lack anything?

Their quick response was, “No.”

But the tables have turned of sorts. Jesus says it’s now time to take up purse and bag. Of even greater interest is that he replaces the word sandals with sword. If they didn’t have a sword, no problem. They could sell their cloaks to obtain one.

Hardship was coming; enemies were on the prowl. Grab your stuff and get ready for the attack; get ready to defend yourselves with sword.

At least that’s what it seems to suggest on the surface.

Yet, what many fail to do is to continue reading the Gospel narrative.

Jesus immediately quotes Isa 53:12: And he was numbered with the transgressors.

It’s interesting how this little statement about being numbered with transgressors is embedded within the context of Isaiah’s final servant song (52:13-53:12). Though originally the Isaiah passage spoke of the old Hebrew people within the context of their own collective suffering, we as the followers of Jesus identify the song as expounding upon the most gruesome of events in history – the crucifixion of God’s messiah, the holy and innocent one.

In this Isaianic poem, we are told the innocent messiah would be reckoned as a transgressor, or literally as a rebel. He was no transgressor; he was no rebel. He was right, good and innocent. Still, he would be counted as such.

This is what was taking place: Jesus’ words were employing a prophetic drama that would be integral in playing out his own sacrifice of self. However, what he was not doing was laying forth some kind of “command for all time” about weaponry that he expected his followers to embrace. These words were not arguing for personal self-preservation; they were not prescribing an opportunity to kill any intruder; they were not advocating retributive violence. Nothing of the sort.

If they were, then the cross means absolutely nothing!

Take up arms to defeat your enemies!

That’s the exact opposite message of the cross.

This becomes clear when Jesus’ friends say, “Hey, we have two swords!” Jesus responds with, “That’s enough.”

Were two swords really going to defeat the onslaught that was forthcoming? Really?! Two swords for a mob? Two swords when facing Rome’s contingency over the next couple of days?

Of course not.

I’m not quite sure of the body language and tone in Jesus’ statement, “That’s enough,” but I imagine a deep sigh and a looking up to the Father as if to acknowledge his friends just don’t get it.

Not only that, but if we dip into the other Gospel accounts, we find a rebuke when Peter actually does pull out his sword to lop off one of the soldier’s ears: “Put your sword back in its place, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword” (Matt 26:52).

What was taking place is that those who were his closest friends were abandoning the ways of Jesus, invoking the ways of rebels and Rome, embracing violence through the sword. Hence, as the well-known suffering servant song went, Jesus was going to be counted amongst the transgressing rebels.

However, we are certain of one thing: In this atrocious act of capital punishment at the cross, the great evils of the age, the powers and authorities, would be disarmed (Col 2:15). Jesus did this not with a sword, not with a weapon, but with self-sacrificial love expressed in a bloody death.

And, as Isaiah expresses elsewhere, this was to propel us toward a new day and era:

They will beat their swords into plowshares
    and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
    nor will they train for war anymore. (Isa 2:4)

We still await that day, at least fully. The followers of Jesus can begin now. If we do, it would resemble the one we are named after. That’s exactly what our early sisters and brothers did. In the midst of grave injustice, great persecution, and the slaughtering of many, they maintained the perspective of self-sacrificial love. Read the stories in church history.

It’s difficult. I cannot even imagine – for Jesus or his early followers. But that is the call of the cruciform life shaped after the crucified one. I imagine the grace will be sufficient at the time it is needed.

There are many other Scripture passages worth considering on the topic of bearing arms. My great challenge here is that we stop mis-utilizing Luke 22. Those words do not empower Christians (Christ-followers) to bear arms. America might allow one thing, and we have to wisely and collectively consider what our government allows. But the words of Jesus in Luke 22 and the second amendment are not one and the same.

38 thoughts on “Scott Lencke – Misunderstanding Jesus: If You Don’t Have a Sword, Sell Your Cloak and Buy One

  1. Straw Man Alert! Straw Man Alert!

    “One of the main go-to Scripture passages for those who promote the private right to bear arms (and use those arms) is found in Jesus’ words in Luke 22:”

    If this is a “main go to statement”, I surely would have heard of it in my many years of life around all types of conservative, church going, gun owning, gun right defending peoples. I don’t mind you having a different point of view, but don’t take a teaching/argument that, if it actually exists, is likely promoted by a small group of zealots and then impose it as a “main argument”.

    Of course, if you think I’m incorrect, you could always specifically identify who “those” people are. That would help me take your post more seriously.


  2. I have a nephew who is a cop in a major city. I asked him what’s the prevailing attitude about gun control in his department. Surprisingly, he says no one is in favor of it, except for one thing: they all think citizen open-carry serves no tactical or deterrent purpose whatsoever


  3. Greg –

    I think these are some good reflections here. Yes, the ancient and eastern context are much different from the modern western setting we are in. Shame & honor were major parts of the culture. I think this is why retribution is so easy as broken/fallen humans – we must get back at folk to uphold our honor, dignity, pride. The cross (and subsequent resurrection) shows us we don’t have to walk in that path. And your point about challenging the system – the rulers, the authorities, the powers of this dark world – is important as well. Who would have thought laying down one’s life is a challenge to the system?


  4. Welcome to the world of End Time Prophecy craziness.
    Book of Revelation as a linear chronolgical checklist of historical events written in advance.

    In the Seventies there was the local Dogma that despite all the high-tech even of the Seventies, Armageddon would be fought entirely on horseback with swords because PROPHECY. The rationale was that this would be because of The Energy Crisis.

    And according to Slackfivist’s comment threads, LB’s Antichrist is just as much of a “because PROPHECY” freak as the Author Self-Inserts (I refuse to call them “heroes”):
    * Builds his capital city from scratch on the archeological site of Babylon — because PROPHECY!
    * Bulldozes seven artificial hills on the site so his World Capital will sit on Seven Hills — because PROPHECY!
    * Calls the religion he starts “Enigma Babylon One World Faith” — because PROPHECY!
    (Now THAT’s a name only an End Time Prophecy freak would come up with. The comment continued to say that if he ever got into Antichrist’s Inner Sanctum, he’d expect to see piles of End Time Prophecy books and all the walls covered with End Time Prophecy Timeline posters.)

    Oh, and his Grand Plan for the Battle of Armageddon is to literally pack a concealed carry piece and cap Christ with it instead of going sword-to-sword during the prophesied face-to-face confrontation.


  5. An important step in protecting one’s family from gun violence is not having a gun in the home. The gun in one’s home is far more likely to be used against a member of the household, including oneself, than against a criminal intruder.


  6. IF a bunch of little ones at Sandy Hook Elementary are savagely torn apart by an attack weapon (they were butchered, literally shot into pieces) fired by a disturbed young man, and THAT failed to at least BEGIN a good work in the conscience of this country, then I should shake my fist at God and ask ‘what does it take?’

    How long, Oh Lord ? How long?

    I despise the NRA. I used to ‘dislike’ them, but I’ve upgraded.


  7. And this argument just popped into my Facebook feed (which I’ve heard before):

    Did you know owning a gun does not make you a killer? Matthew 15:19 “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.”

    Husband’s response:
    So here is my question. Why does this argument negate the need for gun control (notice I did not say elimination)? By using this verse as an argument against legislation you can dismantle any law set up to help protect us from these people. Why have restraining orders against abusive spouses if it is not going to change him into a good person? Why take away someone’s drivers licenses for drunk driving if it’s not the car that was reckless?

    No law, not even God’s law can prevent you from doing bad things. It can only set out punishment for doing those things. So does that mean we should not have any law? Of course not. Laws are there to act as a deterrent, to provide friction to those who would do us harm. To make it more difficult to act impulsively or with malice.

    The fact that the law is not perfect at protecting us does not negate its necessity.

    It is not either or, it is both and.

    To stand helpless in the face of evil and just shrug your shoulders and say “it’s a heart problem, not my problem” enables the problem to continue.

    Do these people need Christ. Absolutely, but in the meantime, we can put up roadblocks that may keep them from destroying their own life by a decision that will forever put them beyond the reach of salvation because they have been killed by a cop or taken their own life.


  8. The point of this long-winded dissertation is that if Jesus is challenging the honor culture, the violence he specifically prohibits for his followers is almost certainly retributive violence.


  9. I know this may take us a little off topic, but I believe it puts the question in a larger context (although admittedly a controversial one). I think most people who argue for pacifism based on Jesus’ life and example (the cross) often don’t really understand the cultural context in which Jesus makes his ‘pacifist statements’ (e.g. ‘turn the other cheek’) or the cross. (I understand the OP is talking about ‘swords’ and guns but he points to the ‘cruciform life’ and the example of Jesus as non-violent.) Sometimes this leads to what I think are oversimplified or anachronistic ideas (e.g. ‘non-violent resistance’ – that idea is a modern one that probably wouldn’t have occurred to someone living under Roman domination in the first century – [insert head-scratch here]). And this is not a comment on guns or even self-defense (though it may have implications for that), and I am not advocating violence or retaliation.

    The culture in which Jesus lived had as one of its primary values ‘honor and shame’. (HUG recently linked to a very informative article about this, though it looks mainly at modern ‘honor societies’ – In these societies honor is very important – far more important than we westerners realize. We think of dishonor and see it as suffering ridicule or snickering behind our backs. In honor societies being dishonored might mean you literally starve to death – people will refuse to buy your products or sell you theirs, refuse to hire you or pay you what is owed, you may not receive justice before the law, and so forth. A modern honor society in the news quite a bit recently is Pakistan – there have been numerous ‘honor killings’ because the actions of someone brought dishonor on the family. This points to another aspect of honor societies – the honor or dishonor is corporate – it involves families, clans, villages, etc. When one is dishonored or acts dishonorably, it affects more than just that person.

    To keep this brief (and being guilty of oversimplification myself), I see Jesus ‘pacifist statements’ as not challenging violence directly but challenging this honor culture. His statement about turning the other cheek involves a backhanded slap – a very serious insult that challenges a person’s honor (as being compelled to carry a pack would be, not to mention crucifixion). In an honor society one doesn’t merely have the right to respond to a challenge if one desires; one really has an obligation to do so. To fail to respond to a challenge to one’s honor brings more dishonor, and the consequences of that dishonor can be severe (which is why parents will burn their daughter to death for marrying against their wishes – the perceived consequences for the parents if they don’t act are that serious).

    What I think Jesus is really doing by saying ‘turn the other cheek’ is challenging that whole value system – God’s kingdom doesn’t work that way. There are numerous examples where Jesus challenges that system, such as the prodigal son story (the actions of the father would have brought more dishonor on the family than the son’s actions, but the father doesn’t care – and his point is about God – God doesn’t care about his ‘honor’; he cares about people) and the call to ‘love your enemies’ (something that also would be seen as dishonorable). Jesus isn’t asking people to turn the other cheek so they can get that one slapped; he is asking them to be willing to bear the consequences of dishonor because there’s a better way to live – the kingdom way.

    Since there are consequences for accepting dishonor, such as being rejected from one’s family, Jesus creates a new ‘family’ (sociologists call this a ‘fictive kin group’ – I like that fancy term). These folks live by a different value system and take care of each other. We see this working out in Paul’s letters to his churches where he extends this to challenge the ‘Roman implementation’ of this system – class and social status (e.g. Corinthians, and especially the ‘packed’ technical terms in Phil. 2:1-4).

    Part of the challenge to this value system involves non-violence (perhaps more particularly non-retaliation) but I don’t think Jesus’ main point is about violence – it’s about challenging that system. It’s hard for most of us to fathom parents burning their daughter to death because she dishonored the family by simply marrying someone other than the person the parents had chosen for her. If we could understand that thinking we might better understand what Jesus is saying, not only about violence, but a lot of what he says. That was the world in which he lived and he apparently didn’t like the way it operated.


  10. *My point is that Rome’s domination and Israel’s corruption would not have looked like “a problem” but “the problem.”


  11. Yes, and no. I don’t think the OT is nearly that simplex. There’s clearly blessings and curses promised. But huge portions of it are trying to grapple with the fact that Israel is sitting on an invasion path and gets caught up in every major empire’s expansion. Much of the tradition it gets put to paper during exile. There’s this huge question hanging over it all, “Is God faithful? Why aren’t we faithful? What will become of the covenant?”

    In the prophets, what the law requires is being interpreted in a robust way.

    Job is pretty much asking, “So does God’s man love God, or is does he just want blessings?

    So I don’t think it boils down into anything so flat.

    My point is that Rome’s domination and Israel’s corruption would have not like “a problem” but “the problem.” I can totally imagine the disciples trying to chew on these enigmatic sayings, and thinking ‘OK, so I’m not sure about this hard saying, but we know this has to do with finally cleaning house, and getting the land back.’


  12. Steve –

    On your second question: Should Christians EVER physically defend themselves with any tools other than the tool of sacrificial love, or defend their families, neighbors, etc.?

    As a general pacifist, I easily hear statements like this: So if an intruder breaks into your house, you’re just gonna stand there and let them hurt you & your family, etc?

    I’m not saying you’d say that, but it’s been remarked to me before.

    I would say that’s a silly argument. I personally like to distinguish between retributive justice and protective justice. I believe the former is bad in light of who Jesus is & what he taught; I believe the latter is good. We are called to protect in Scripture – protect the orphan, widow, the poor, the defenseless, etc. However, in our protecting, I don’t believe it means we will need to use violence in protecting. Interestingly, many who talk about use of weapons for protection are not thinking about protecting the defenseless & disadvantaged. They are interested primarily in protecting themselves.

    I’m not going to get into the nuances of what one can do in the act of protection. But I don’t believe protection has to be done with weaponry. I don’t have all the answers, and I know I would want to protect my loved ones in such terrible situations that could come about. But many have this idea that it’s our God-given right to protect against – or get back at – those who intrude upon us. That’s how I’m going to protect myself. It doesn’t look like the cruciform life at all. Protecting is about covering – love covers a multitude of sins. I’m convinced protection does not have to come via methods of returned (retributive) violence.

    On a side note, I am mainly approaching how things should work with the Christian community in general. I am not specifically addressing how governments function (i.e., Rom 13). But the church collective is to lead a life of self-sacrificial cruciformity. For me, that means self-preservation is perhaps not our God-given right.


  13. Steve –

    Thanks for the question: Why did he just tell them to take a sword.

    Sorry I wasn’t clear. Ultimately, I believe this: If the text is directed into what Jesus alone was playing out in his prophetic vocation as Israel’s Messiah, and I am convinced it is, then we need to keep the text related to what is happening in the person of Jesus in that episode. We have a major problem in the west with always having to individually & personally apply each Bible verse to our lives & what it means for us. I think that practice fails at times, and especially in regards to Luke 22.

    Now, to flesh out a specific answer to the question. Jesus’s disciples are becoming rebel transgressors (not Jesus, though he would be seen “among them,” since these were his disciples). The ways of rebel transgressing is not the ways of Jesus, so they are distancing themselves from him. In a way, Jesus would be distancing himself from them. In this dramatized playing out of messianic prophecy, Jesus already understands what they’re going to do, so he’s in a sense releasing them to play their rebel transgressing role & to take up the items of rebels (purse, bag & sword).

    I still believe he’d “prefer” them not take up the 3 items of rebels. That’s in line with the ways of enemy-love, the cruciform life, & his remark to put away your sword. This is why I think his statement, “That’s enough,” is an exasperated comment as he’s reminded they just don’t get it.

    In the end, I’m convinced Luke 22:36 is no go-to text for supporting gun ownership for the preservation of self nor any second amendment construct.


  14. To nerd out for a second, that last point is kind of why in games like D&D and Diablo I’m sorta drawn to the idea of the Holy Warrior, the Templar, the martial arts Monk. Doing the right thing but unafraid to pick up a sword. Because otherwise, pacifists will get gunned down if they don’t have a wall to hide behind.


  15. should Christians EVER physically defend themselves with any tools other than the tool of sacrificial love, or defend their families, neighbors, etc.?

    Absolutely, yes. Thou shalt not murder > thou shalt not kill. Also, context: a political agitator and his followers up against a foreign army’s reign and local colluders. It would have been a slaughter for Jesus and followers to carry weapons.

    And if “yes”

    Should we even be looking in the Bible at all for rules on firearms and self-defense? Pretty soon we may start weighing and tithing the grains in our ammo…

    I concede it is easy for me to claim my security comes from walking by faith, not by gunsight, as I am already in a position of relative safety provided by people who have been willing to carry the sword.

    Very, VERY good point. Thus is the precarious balance of our political nature right now too. Those who find some things detestable rely on others to do it. Sleeping with Peter to pay Paul. Which is why for every political argument I get into, I try to argue for the bigger picture, checks and balances, consequences, precedents. Like the the damaging effects the Hobby Lobby stuff had on America and will continue to have. In the moment, you may not pick up a gun and detest those who do, but when you need a gun, many will cry bloody murder that it’s not available.


  16. I see ‘targets’ everywhere now. Most concealed carry people aren’t very wise either. Dudes shouldn’t wear fanny packs.

    I tend to also get side eyes from wanna be heroes and law enforcement with how I dress and look. Apparently tactical apparel and duty boots and certain types of sunglasses marks you, lol. Arguably these are just my work clothes and I’d rather wear tee shirts and jeans, but it happens.


  17. *raises eyebrow* Dominionism?

    related, I don’t know how many times I’ve heard growing up that God is not some “slot machine in the sky” you can put prayers and good works into and get blessings.

    Buuutttt…that’s exactly what he does and promises over and over throughout the Bible, particularly in the OT. So…idk.


  18. Whenever I see an ‘open carry’ guy (aside from the fact that his equipment and method of carry usually show he has absolutely zero training or tactical knowledge) I think he might as well wear a t-shirt with a big target that says ‘Shoot Me First’, because if he’s ever in a place where he may need that gun the bad guy will take him out before he’s aware of what’s happening. You’re right, it’s about making a statement (IMHO, not only a political one, but an unintentional one that says a lot more).


  19. Related – does anyone else remember the sheer crazyiness the Left Behind authors had to go through in order to actually provide a sword to use to kill the AntiChrist? As opposed to just a firearm, lol. If I remember correctly, they even tried to do a whole “Who shot Mr Burns?” thing in one book, but of course, because PROPHECY, it had to be a sword…


  20. I have no doubt that many people who own guns have a healthy relationship to them

    Speaking as someone who currently sells guns, ammo, and tactical equipment for a living…

    Sometimes it’s not about having a healthy relationship with the gun, but about healthy relationships to other people. I think especially of those who open carry in crowded public places because it’s THEIR right to do so. To quote my conservative friends whenever LGBT stuff comes up: “why do you have to rub our noses in it?” Doing something intentionally TO MAKE other people uncomfortable is pretty dickish behavior.

    At some point, with pro-NRA and pro-SA people, it’s not about safety anymore. And that’s the culture and problem.


  21. Was it this blog or another where one commenter reported his preacher holding a “Second Amendment Sunday”, preaching with a Glock on his hip entirely about Second Amendment? With NRA petitions in the narthex?

    My take was if he isn’t delivering that sermon in red speedos, thigh-high hooker boots, ponytail, and pornstache, he isn’t even trying.



  22. Scott, thanks for your commentary today. I agree with much of what you say, except that you did not return to the question: why did just tell them to take a sword?

    If we think in this context of swords or guns as tools to aid in self-defense, as plowshares are tools for food production, then the larger question raised from this passage is: should Christians EVER physically defend themselves with any tools other than the tool of sacrificial love, or defend their families, neighbors, etc.? And if “yes”, then is this passage more about proportionality? (e.g. zero swords not enough, two swords is enough, three swords is too much…).

    I am not a gun owner and am not interested in owning one, but I am privileged to live in a neighborhood with relatively low rates of violence and a responsive police force, in a country that is generally considered civilized, that was once settled and formed by people who were themselves armed. I concede it is easy for me to claim my security comes from walking by faith, not by gunsight, as I am already in a position of relative safety provided by people who have been willing to carry the sword.


  23. To be fair to them: a lot of the signs are demonstrations of Jesus’ dominion. He heals diseases. He raises dead people. He gives orders to demons. We’re revving up for the big show, surely. So why wouldn’t he heal Israel of her Roman affliction and end its bondage? Plus the guiding texts here are the OT prophesies and the disciples have a pretty robust idea of what those are promising.

    The degree to which the events play out unsettle them is probably easy for us to pass over, even though we see it happening over and over again.


  24. Yes, I suspect so. “Well, I’m not sure what he’s saying. But we all know what needs to happen here. Right? RIGHT? Giant army needs to go.”


  25. To me the gun debate ties in to Paul’s guidelines on food sacrificed to idols:

    “Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge.” (1 Cor 8:9-11)

    Guns are one of many things that some people in our culture worship as idols: money, intelligence, beauty, sports teams, patriotism, celebrities, relationships, etc. I have no doubt that many people who own guns have a healthy relationship to them, but there are also many people for whom guns come to occupy their hearts and imaginations in a way that only God should, and they put their faith in those guns to save them, to protect them, to give them an identity, to make them feel powerful or masculine.

    As Christians we have a responsibility to make sure that we ourselves are not slipping into idolatry, but we also have some responsibility to make sure that we are not promoting idolatry in those around us. In my mind that means either being very intentional and outspoken about setting a good example of responsible gun ownership, or taking the safe way out and just refusing to own a gun at all.


  26. I’ve not really heard an expounding upon this particular part of the passion narrative in promoting ownership of guns. What I’ve typically heard (not necessarily in a Sunday morning preaching) is an argument for guns and second amendment rights, and then a referencing of Luke 22 as part of a handful of passages that show God has authorized it. Something more to that effect. However it plays out, I think it’s mis-appropriating Luke 22. And it seems there’s not really much metaphorical stuff going on in the narrative, but a specific prophetic-messianic drama being played out by Jesus in connection to the Isaiah passage.


  27. I have never heard it used that way in person. I have heard it used as a pro-weapons argument multiple times on Christian radio.


  28. Yes Adam. I think it is our nature to avoid the difficult path of love and go for the easy way out. Be the bringer of the cross, not the bearer of it.


  29. I’ve attended conservative Evangelical churches all my life. I can honestly say I’ve NEVER heard a preacher suggest that passage should encourage us to “gun up.” Now surely there are preachers who have said it, but I can honestly say I’ve never heard it interpreted that way.
    I’ve only heard it interpreted metaphorically – as it should be.


  30. Do you sometimes wonder if, at least a bit, in the back of their minds, the disciples were waiting until Jesus would ‘get real’? As in yes-ok-all-this-love-stuff, … but … someday he’s going to lead us into victory over our oppressors. Oh my, what was that he just said??? Is it now? No? got it, still in love mode. …. Now? No, ok….. What about now? ….
    Waiting for the message they wanted to hear.


  31. Sometimes I joke with my wife when we’re going to do something comfortable and without any challenge whatsoever like going to our favorite restaurant. I’ll act as if it’s a great challenge we’re about to face and ask, “Are you ready for this? Spiritually? Mentally? Emotionally? Socially? Religiously? Philosophically? Are you ready?” Somewhere in the middle of all that I hear an emphatic, “SHUT….UP.” Tough broad from Philly. It might have been funny the first time. Anyway, there was nothing funny in what Jesus was saying but I see an exhortation. He was telling them that he would be crucified and that they would be left, temporarily, helpless. The Holy Spirit was not yet with them. It was like he was saying, “Are you ready for this? Gird you loins my little ones. Set up your defenses. By all appearances, things will not go well so pull it together any way you can with every weapon at your disposal. Pick up your swords. This is going to require fight.” He was speaking as he had always spoken and they were hearing as they had always heard. When they took him to mean literal swords, the same hard hearing they had employed through virtually his entire ministry, he said, “That’s enough.” At that moment I would guess the necessity of his life’s mission was reinforced in his mind. Three years together and they didn’t have a clue. Still babes in the woods. Only the shocking reality of the cross would begin turning those swords into plow shares. Sadly, all these years later, we continue to reach for our swords and find justification for it in the scriptures. How long oh Lord?


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