Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on April 29, 2016 and has been revised.
The Bible is an inexhaustible fountain of knowledge and wisdom. I need God’s Word every day just like I need food, water, and oxygen. The Holy Spirit uses the Word to teach me, correct me, admonish me, encourage me, comfort me, and delight me. Praise the Lord for His wonderful and glorious Word!
The depths of Scripture can never be plumbed in this lifetime. I’ve read verses and passages many times without really understanding the full extent of their meaning. Then one day I’ll be reading a verse and, “Pow!,” the Holy Spirit illuminates it to me so that I really “get it” for the first time. I’m sure that’s happened to many of you as well.
I’m currently reading through Luke and yesterday I was reading chapter 22, verses 35-38:
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.”
I’ve read this passage many times before but it never “clicked” with me. Why did Jesus instruct His apostles to buy a “sword” (Greek: makhaira: generally a large knife or sword with a single cutting edge) when He subsequently rebuked Peter for violently wielding one of those swords in the Garden of Gethsemane just a few verses later (v. 51), causing the reader to question if Jesus had contradicted Himself. I asked the young pastor of the church we attended last year about this seeming contradiction and he confessed he didn’t know the answer. In the documentary, “Fight Church,” the macho son of the macho former-pastor of the independent fundamental Baptist church we used to attend, who is now the pastor, uses these verses to justify Christians owning guns and violently kicking some butt whenever needed.
But as I read the verses yesterday, the Holy Spirit finally illuminated their meaning to me. Jesus told the apostles to buy a sword to fulfill prophetic Scripture:
“Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” – Isaiah 53:12.
Jesus was with Peter and the apostles in Gethsemane when Peter transgressed by using a sword to cut off the ear of Malchus, the servant of the high priest. Jesus was counted among the violent anomos (lawbreakers). Oh, I get it now! It’s so simple. So easy. Why didn’t I understand it before? Jesus even states QUITE CLEARLY in the passage that the need for a sword was to fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy that He would be numbered among the criminals:
“…and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors.’”
Why didn’t my previous pastor just out of seminary know this? Why does the IFB macho pastor not see this, but instead twists the passage to support his own misguided, macho man viewpoint? Why didn’t John MacArthur, J. Vernon McGee, and other notable Bible commentators understand this clearly obvious reason for Jesus’ instruction to buy a sword? Because it’s the Holy Spirit who illuminates God’s Word to us. Understanding of God’s Word doesn’t come to us from our own human wisdom.
“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” – John 16:13
Jesus would also be numbered with the transgressors when He hung on the cross between the two criminals.
“With Him they also crucified two robbers, one on His right and the other on His left. So the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And He was numbered with the transgressors.” – Mark 15:27-28
Jesus interceded for Peter after his violent act and He also interceded for the repentant criminal hanging beside Him (along with all the rest of us sinners who trust in Him by faith alone), just as Isaiah had foretold.
Lord, thank You for Your Word and for illuminating Your Truths which we can’t possibly discern through our own human understanding.
Note from February 11, 2021: I’m a bit embarrassed by my bold certitude regarding the interpretation of this difficult “let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one” passage. I still hold to the above interpretation (which seems quite obvious to me), but in retrospect I would ratchet down my “triumphant” tone a few notches.