With the celebrated events of the memorable death and resurrection of Jesus Christ coming up;I just want to share a few things about peace.
Before Jesus headed up to pray in the mount of Olives, right before his arrest, he had an interesting discourse with his disciples. This was only recorded by Dr. Luke in His Gospel account. Let’s see it:
“And He said to them, “When I sent you out without money belt and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?”
They said, ” No, nothing.” And He said to them, “But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one. For I tell you that this which is written must be fulfilled in Me, ‘AND HE WAS NUMBERED WITH TRANSGRESSORS ‘; for that which refers to Me has its fulfillment.”
They said, “Lord, look, here are two swords.” And He said to them, “It is enough.””
Luke 22:35-38 NASB
Earlier on, Jesus sent his disciples to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom. When he sent them, he told them not to go with bags, purses or money belts , sandals and stuffs like that (Luke 9:1-3).
This time he changed his policy. He knew he was about to fulfill his assignment of saving all of mankind. He told them to bring along money belts (purses) and bags. Strange enough, he told them do all they can to get swords too.
Apparently, some of his disciples had swords with them. These guys brought out their swords and showed it to Jesus. “Lord, we already have them. Check them out.”
Jesus did not congratulate them. He didn’t say. “Wow, that was fast. Good for you.” His reply was not what those enthusiastic disciples expected. He said, “It is enough.”
Now, If you view this Bible translation from the western side, you may be quick to think, “Oh! Jesus said it’s enough. Two swords were enough. Enough means it’s good.”
That was far from what Jesus meant. Many can bear with me that this same phrase can be used out of frustration. Think of this scenario. People are arguing in front of you, driving you crazy. It gets to the point where you cannot bear it any longer. You put your foot down and roar, “Enough!”
That exclamation actually implied “Shut up!”, spoken out of frustration. This was kinda what Jesus meant. Luke wrote in Greek, Hebrew thoughts. That was a normal way of an Easterner expressing his frustration.
Let’s take a look on another example where the same phrase was used in a similar context. Elijah was being sought for by Queen Jezebel to be killed. I’ll let the Scripture passage continue that for me:
“But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree; and he requested for himself that he might die, and said, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers.””
1 Kings 19:4 NASB
That phrase was used here again out of frustration. The MSG Bible figured that out and expressed Jesus’ sentiments a bit more accurately:
“They said, “Look, Master, two swords!” But he said, “Enough of that; no more sword talk!””
Luke 22:38 MSG
See?! That is what Jesus meant. With that solved, let’s move on to the next step – the reason behind this action of frustration.
Jesus did ask them to get swords. But, he was referring to a different kind. Not a physical killing sword, but a spiritual one. Physical swords hurt and kill. This were the kind of swords that physical Israel was stuck with in the old covenant of Moses. They expected the Messiah to be a military leader with awesome power to destroy their Roman oppressors. Jesus didn’t do any of that. He dwelled in peace with the Romans.
He used a sword though. The New Covenant kind – the sword of the Word. I stumbled upon this quote by S.A.W which read: Words are sharp like swords, that’s why words appear in words swords, words can’t kill, but it can leave a scar forever.”
Words can kill. They can cause some people to commit suicide. However, that is not what Jesus meant either. The sword he referred to imparts life rather can take it. Paul called it the sword of the life-giving Spirit.
This Sword that Jesus meant, is the Word of God – specifically the truth of the “good news” that they were meant to share with all of humanity. Jesus told them to do whatever they can to get that sword, if it meant buying one. Well, I remember one really wise king Solomon making a similar quote:
“Buy the truth and sell it not…”
The disciples, on many occasions, have been corrected by Jesus to resort to peace rather than war.
One time, when they got to a village in Samaria, the locals rejected Jesus when he enquired to use their village as a short-cut route to Jerusalem. John asked for permission to call down fire from Heaven to burn those suckers up.
He was quite surprised at Jesus’ reaction. Jesus rebuked him and then said, “for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them”(Luke 9:51- 56). They then went on to another village without causing trouble.
With all these as the backdrop, imagine his disappointment and frustration, when he mentioned swords and they brought out physical swords meant for hurt and destruction. I hope you get my drift.
They still did not listen to him after that. Not long after that conversation, Judas showed up with the chief priests, guards and others. He betrayed Jesus by pointing out to the others who Jesus was, with a kiss. Let’s read what happened next:
“When those who were around Him saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?”
And one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus answered and said, “Stop! No more of this.” And He touched his ear and healed him.”
Luke 22:49-51 NASB
One of the disciples brought out a sword and cut a guy’s ear clean off. “What is wrong with these guys?” Jesus would have thought. “They still don’t get it.” I can see him sighing with disappointment. He ordered them to ceasefire and then healed the injured guy who, mind you, was on the enemy’s side.
Jesus detested violence. Violence is never the answer for any religion. The gospel entrusted to us believers in Christ to share with the world, doesn’t come with violence. When Jesus commissioned his disciples, he made it clear that they shouldn’t use any destructive means to carry that mission out. The same goes with us.
Another thing. Never use violence to defend your religious beliefs or your deity. It achieves the opposite effect to what is intended. People won’t give you a genuine listening ear. Even harsh words will turn people off to you. Can you blame them? Jesus was against it. The Bible is against it. Paul advised that the truth must be spoken with love (Ephesians 4:15).
What you believe in, what you know, will sound arrogant if it’s not spoken in love. Even though it may be true. Knowledge imparted without love puffs up. Paul implied the same with the analogy of idol food (1 Corinthians 8). If a person is not ready for that knowledge, just don’t force it into him/her. It will offend them and you may never win them over again.
Speaking of analogy, that incident where the guy’s ear was cut off by Jesus’ disciple, can be used as such. If violence is used, the ear will be cut off. This means that the person will put his/her walls up and stop listening to you.
Besides, Jesus never needed defense. He was fine on his own. He asserted that he willingly gave up His life. If not, nobody would have been able to harm him. They tried many times before, but they just couldn’t; until when he decided it was time.
This goes for all religions. If your deity and beliefs are so powerful, why wreak havoc to defend them? They are powerful enough to defend themselves.
If they are true and you know they are, other opinions or beliefs shouldn’t be able to affect you. You know they are wrong. If you are not sure that they are true, isn’t that the more reason to listen to other opinions?
Humans killing and hurting others to defend a god that claims to be all powerful sounds absurd. Doesn’t it?
Words cut deeper than any sword can. The right kind of words can cut even more, and when it does, it imparts life not death and destruction. It imparts transformation.
Let me end my story on a good note. The disciples came to understand what Jesus meant by the sword after He had ascended. Thank God for the help of the indwelling Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit came down upon them on the day Of Pentecost, Peter stood up and for the first time, used the mightier sword. He proclaimed the Word of God to the audience and here was its result:
“When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?””
Acts 2:37 NIV
The audience were “cut to the heart” by Peter’s message and as a result 3,000 people were saved that day. Imagine Jesus sitting in glory at the Father’s right hand, applauding saying, “Now they’ve got it.”
Our God is a God of love. He is a God of Peace and reconciliation. One of Jesus’ titles is the “Prince (Author) of Peace.” He even assigned us the title of “Ambassadors of reconciliation,” committing to us the awesome message of conciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).
Good Friday is coming up soon. As we meditate on Jesus’ death and resurrection; let’s express these qualities and values that He holds so dear. He died to save mankind, not destroy them. Let’s endeavor not to do the opposite.