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Luke 22:35-38 – Preparing for Conflict

Summary

In the final scene before Jesus goes to the Mount of Olives, the site of his arrest, he gives instructions to his followers, suggesting that conflict is coming.

Analysis

Jesus' enigmatic words in these verses have led interpreters to a variety of different conclusions. His question in v. 35 recalls Luke 9:3 and 10:4, where he sends his followers out to proclaim God's reign and work miracles. In those instances, they bring nothing with them. Now Jesus tells them to take their possessions and use them to buy swords. He cites a scriptural text, Isaiah 53:12, indicating that the political powers will move against him and treat him as a lawless one, a criminal. This means that his followers should expect to face similar opposition and perhaps legal prosecution.

Jesus' comments about the swords are probably meant symbolically. He hardly appears to be trying to muster a fighting force, and the disgust he expresses after a sword is used in Luke 22:49-51 must be taken into account. The contrast he draws with Luke 9:3 and 10:4 is also important to consider here. Earlier he prepared his followers for preaching. Now he prepares them for persecution. Their lives will be marked by the sword from this point forward. His concluding remark, "It is enough," does not say that two swords will protect them. Instead, it voices his exasperation that they have misunderstood him as if he were issuing an actual call to arms. His followers will know the realities of swords, but they are not themselves to wield actual swords.

Luke 22:35-38

Purse, Bag, and Sword

35 He said to them, ‘When I sent you out without a purse, bag, or sandals, did you lack anything?’ They said, ‘No, not a thing.’ 36He said to them, ‘But now, the one who has a purse must take it, and likewise a bag. And the one who has no sword must sell his cloak and buy one. 37For I tell you, this scripture must be fulfilled in me, “And he was counted among the lawless”; and indeed what is written about me is being fulfilled.’ 38They said, ‘Lord, look, here are two swords.’ He replied, ‘It is enough.’

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10 February 2011

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