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.” Luke 22:35-36 (NIV)
This is a curious passage of scripture, one which could make someone who is familiar with the nature and teaching of Jesus to do a double take. What in the world is Jesus talking about here?
This advice seems contrary to everything we know about Jesus from both His teachings and His dealings with His disciples. It appears to contradict His many exhortations to faith in God’s provision and to trust in God’s protection. The very idea of now being told to essentially lookout for oneself after the comfort of experiencing God’s miraculous interventions seems ludicrous.
But the reality is, Jesus’ manner in relating to His disciples is about to change. He is preparing them for His impending arrest, crucifixion and death. In the next breath He tells them: “It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me.’” (vs. 37)
This change in the rules of the game ushered in a very difficult time for the disciples. No one suffered more than poor Peter. First he took Jesus’ advice about the sword too literally. At Jesus’ arrest he overstepped the will of the Lord and wielding his sword cut off a man’s ear. Jesus had to rebuke him saying “No more of this!” and healed the man. Then Peter ended up denying Christ three times and going out into the night weeping bitterly. (vs. 47-62)