Luke 22:35-36 Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?”
“Nothing,” they answered.
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.”
I have seen this passage quoted numbers of times in the gun control debate, reasonably enough, but it strikes me just now that the issue is much broader than defensive weaponry. I think the whole point is that different situations call for different responses. When Jesus sent out the 12 (Mark 6:7-11) and the 72 (Luke 10:1-12) there wasn’t active persecution yet, and the assignment was short term. However, here He is talking about a far more open-ended situation. Tradition has it that Thomas went all the way to South India! When we take Scripture out of context we risk all sorts of problems. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t abiding principles, but it does mean we have to listen to the Holy Spirit. Sometimes the Lord wants us to drop everything and do something, and sometimes He wants us to prepare carefully. If we aren’t in the habit of listening to Him, we will probably get it wrong in one direction or the other. Even though Jesus talked about swords here, when Peter used one of the two they had on hand in very sloppy fashion against the High Priest’s servant, the timing was wrong and Jesus called him down for it. (vv. 50-51) Personally, I can’t imagine the level of ineptitude that caused Peter to cut off an ear! We need to know how to use what the Lord provides. However, the most important skill is in hearing the Lord accurately in the first place.
This of course applies to me, just as it does to every believer. I have said for several years that if I lived in the US, I would get a concealed-carry permit, but since I don’t, that’s not an issue. I have missed the Lord’s best at times by rushing into things unprepared, but I have also missed His best by overthinking things and hanging back. As a pastor, one of my greatest failings has been a failure to plan. I want to be “instantly available,” but that’s not to be an excuse for not planning. I am to be flexible, certainly, but I am also to be prepared. We are at the end of a fiscal year in Japan, and I need to be prepared to lay out a vision for the year ahead in the business meeting in two weeks. That’s a real challenge, but it has the potential for really turning this church around. I need to seek the Lord and let Him show me His plans, for me and for this church, so that we may participate fully as He intends, for His glory.
Father, thank You for this Word. I didn’t exactly expect it! Show me how to be quiet before You to listen, and also how to prepare for what You have for me/us to do, so that we may indeed move into all that You have planned, for the salvation of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!