October 11, 2013
Dear brothers and sisters,
I am taking the good news today from Luke 22:35-38.
He said to them, “When I sent you forth without a money bag or a sack or sandals, were you in need of anything?” “No, nothing,” they replied. He said to them, “But now one who has a money bag should take it, and likewise a sack, and one who does not have a sword should sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this scripture must be fulfilled in me, namely, ‘He was counted among the wicked’; and indeed what is written about me is coming to fulfillment.” Then they said, “Lord, look, there are two swords here.” But he replied, “It is enough!”
OK, this is one of those passages that I need a lot of help with to understand. Why did Jesus tell them that things were going to be different now? Carry a sword? The New Jerome Biblical Commentary states, “Luke cannot mean by ‘sword’ here a destructive weapon. Rather ‘sword is a symbol for crisis. A paraphrase of the latter part of verse 36 is: sell your mantle and buy trouble. Again Luke underlines in this discourse that what Jesus is about is according to God’s plan. He is the new Servant of Yahweh. If Jesus is treated this way, so too will be his disciples.” It further states that in Jesus words “It is enough”, “Luke depicts Jesus’ disgust with the disciples’ literal understanding of his words in verse 36 [about the sword].”
I guess I’m a lot like the disciples in continually taking Jesus’ words literally instead of discerning the spirit in which he delivers his teaching, meaning that my head continues to try to interpret his words as law while he is trying to get my heart to understand the higher law, the spirit of God’s love and call to obedience to His will. That’s why Jesus was always critical of the scribes and Pharisees; they were so caught up in the letter of the law that they failed to understand the spirit of the law. Jesus wants me to operate out of my heart, to love one another including my enemies. I can’t do that if I let my head lead me. Love is from the heart, not from the head.
The hospitality that the apostles and other disciples received when they were sent out by Jesus to the towns and villages to preach the good news and to heal and cast out demons was about to change. The good news was to be rejected by most Jews. Even in our day the good news is rejected by most Christians. They needed to be prepared for this rejection and rely upon their own resources for sustenance. What are those resources? I think they are the fruits of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control according to Paul. If I am filled with those gifts, I will have all I need to withstand rejection and stand fast in proclaiming the good news. If I love from the heart, the heart of Jesus, I will prevail. Love defeats death. That is the good news that sustains me.