Bible and crossContinuing a study of the passages from Luke’s Gospel which have been omitted from the three-year Lectionary for public worship, today’s post is part of my ongoing series Forbidden Bible Verses, also essential to understanding Scripture.

The Bible passages in this series have been excluded from the three-year Lectionary used by many Catholic and Protestant churches around the world.

Do some clergy using the Lectionary really want us understand Holy Scripture in its entirety? I wonder.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Luke 22:35-38

Scripture Must Be Fulfilled in Jesus

35 And he said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” 36 He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. 37 For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” 38 And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough.”

—————————————————————–

This is the last of St Luke’s account of the inner room where Jesus instituted the Last Supper.

The preceding verses has the account of His foretelling Peter’s denial of Him hours later.

It is difficult for the remaining eleven Apostles — Judas has gone to the authorities — to understand what is happening and what will happen within the next 24 hours.

Now Jesus is telling His closest followers that they must take certain precautions for the future. He will no longer be amongst them physically to protect them. They do not grasp the import of His message, although it will make sense to them within the coming weeks.

Jesus begins by asking them if they had ever needed anything temporal when they went out briefly on their own ministry (verse 35). They respond by saying they had what they needed, as He had said at the time.

My readers who have been following these readings from Luke’s Gospel, which I started analysing in March 2013, will recall that in Luke 9:1-6, our Lord did indeed send the Apostles out for a short time, investing them with the divine grace to preach and heal. My post on the passage, with John MacArthur’s exposition, is useful to those who would like to better understand this ministry.

Luke 9:1-6

Jesus Sends Out the Twelve Apostles

 1 And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. 3 And he said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics. 4And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. 5And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.” 6 And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.

Luke 10 begins with Jesus sending out the 72 disciples in the same manner:

Jesus Sends Out the Seventy-Two

10 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two[a] others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. 4 Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.

Jesus sent both groups out with few material comforts because He protected them from a distance. His blessing ensured that all would go well in their efforts. He also intended to show them that they, too, would be able to preach and heal in His name.

Back to today’s passage from Luke. Jesus now gives them different instructions: have a moneybag, take a knapsack and … buy a sword (verse 36).

That this passage does not find its way into the three-year Lectionary is deplorable. We need to know how Jesus’s presence and absence changed the conditions of His disciples’ ministry.

That said, even in churches where Scripture is studied in detail, John MacArthur says that he has never heard a sermon preached on these verses:

Perhaps you’ve never even read that passage. I don’t think in my life I’ve ever heard a message on that passage. And yet it is one of the most important ones in the New Testament for reasons that will become apparent to you.

But, people say, Jesus is — and was — non-violent, bar the cleansing of the temple. True. But then Jesus — by His all-human, all-divine nature — did not have to be violent.

He intended for the Apostles to arm themselves for self-defence, not for attacks.

Another Gospel passage which helps clarify what He is preparing them for is John 16:1-4, also spoken at the Last Supper (KJV below, emphases mine):

1These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended.

 2They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.

 3And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.

 4But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you.

Incidentally, John 13-16 offers the fullest Gospel account of Jesus’s final words to His Apostles before the Crucifixion. In reading them, one really feels as if one were there at the Last Supper. These chapters are another reason why John’s Gospel is my favourite.

Returning to Luke, Matthew Henry’s commentary offers this analysis of Jesus’s instructions:

[1.] They must not now expect that their friends would be so kind and generous to them as they had been and therefore, He that has a purse, let him take it, for he may have occasion for it, and for all the good husbandry he can use. [2.] They must now expect that their enemies would be more fierce upon them than they had been, and they would need magazines as well as stores: He that has no sword wherewith to defend himself against robbers and assassins (2 Corinthians 11:26) will find a great want of it, and will be ready to wish, some time or other, that he had sold his garment and bought one. This is intended only to show that the times would be very perilous, so that no man would think himself safe if he had not a sword by his side.

In verse 37, Jesus tells the Apostles that He must fulfil Scripture. Here He cites Isaiah 53:12:

Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,[j]
    and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,[k]
because he poured out his soul to death
    and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
    and makes intercession for the transgressors.

This is even more evidence that our Lord was meant to be crucified for our sins. Contrary to what revisionists or unbelieving ‘Bible scholars’ say, this was God’s plan for His Son from the beginning of the world. Nothing went wrong. Everything unfolded as He predestined.

MacArthur explains:

Our Lord Himself explicitly claims that He is the fulfillment of Isaiah 53, that is crucial…crucial to an understanding of the fact that Jesus knew who He was and why He had come. It is also the single most powerful New Testament interpreter of the meaning of Isaiah 53 because just the one quote, “He was numbered with the transgressors,” means that the whole chapter applies to Him because that phrase, “He was numbered with the transgressors,” which means that God treated Him as a sinner is repeated in different forms twenty times in Isaiah 53…twenty times in Isaiah 53 in one way or another, it says that Jesus was punished as a sinner…twenty times. This is just one of the twenty.

Luke 22:38 tells us that the Apostles found two swords. Jesus told them that they would suffice. This shows us that Jesus did not instruct them to spread the Gospel by violent means. However, He did expect them to be able to do His work, defending themselves when necessary.

A sword would also allow them to cut wood for fires and defend themselves against wild animals.

We might ask how the two swords just happened to be there. MacArthur surmises:

Probably one belonged to Simon the Zealot and the other one to the tax collector, Matthew. Don’t know. They would be the most likely people to have carried those things. But in the whole time they were with Jesus, they didn’t need any weapons. They would use them for purposes other than aggression.

However, just a few verses later in Luke 22, we read of Jesus’s betrayal and arrest on the Mount of Olives. Peter — the ‘one’ here — grabs a sword:

50 And one of them struck the servant[h] of the high priest and cut off his right ear.

Jesus rebukes the action and performs a final miracle before the Crucifixion:

51 But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him.

He acquiesced to His arrest because:

53  this is your hour, and the power of darkness.”

Next time: Luke 24:11-12

Advertisements