”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.” Luke 22.35-38
Most commentaries that I read, including John Wesleys’ Notes on the NT, agree that the request by Jesus to the disciples to buy a sword is hyperbole. It’s not that there is a need to defend themselves against enemies, but rather, for them to be prepared for what lies ahead on God’s new mission with Jesus. Same with taking a purse, a bag and buying a cloak for travel. Events were about to take place which were going to cause life to become disrupted. No longer were the disciples going to travel in relative peace, now would come a time of persecution, hardship and suffering as the Christ takes to the cross.
When I read this passage, I sense the growing unease Jesus is feeling. A restlessness is in there air. It’s not as if he’s lost faith or is just muttering words out loud, this is evidence of his humanity. Jesus is a man. He’s fully God and fully human. But as a man he’s facing what he knows to be as extreme death, suffering, abuse and hardship. He is fulfilling the very prophesies that have been written about him in Isaiah. Taking a lamb to the slaughter is not a pleasant ordeal. He’s trusting his Father to lead him through this process but it’s still unknown to him, the experience is something he’s never encountered before.
On a personal note, I get nervous when I have a big meeting or retreat for which to prepare. I can’t imagine the agony of the road to the cross. The pain, hardship, rejection by your own people and friends is something almost unbearable. But as we will read in coming days, Jesus will endure. He who saved others will submit to the penalty of sin and death for the sake and salvation of the world.
So we find ourselves in the Upper Room where the disciples are taking notes about what they need to go purchase for the upcoming journey. Purse…check. Bag and sandals…check. Cloak….check. Swords…check. But in truth, the preparation was far more spiritual than physical.
As we move closer towards the cross with the Christ, let’s prepare for our own journey of self denial, humility and sacrifice. Let us live in the uncomfortable space with Jesus who is facing his greatest challenge. A space where uncertainly reigns but God’s true remains.
”O Lord God, Jesus is making his final journey to the cross. The road ahead is going to be very bumpy. The twists and turns, the relinquishment of power and control, the faith to trust God will all be needed. O Lord, give him strength. For our lives depend on Jesus’ actions. Come now Holy Spirit, fill us with your power and love. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen