Preaching the Gospel, Preparing a People

Letter From Dan Dowd - January 22, 2021

Letter From Dan Dowd

January 22, 2021

Sabbath Thought - Why Did Jesus Need a Sword?

One of the more curious actions of Jesus Christ is found in Luke 22. This was Passover night 31 A.D. Christ had spent the earlier portion of the evening eating the Passover with His disciples teaching them the new symbols of footwashing, bread and the wine. He spent a great deal of time instructing them about the love they were to have like He and the Father had. They were to have, and teach, this love to the members He would bring into His Church.

As they were leaving, Jesus then said to them, "...he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one," (Luke 22:36). Nowhere else in the life of Christ did we find any hint of condoning violence - so why would He tell His disciples to go out and buy a sword? Did Christ now intend that His disciples would rise up to defend Him when the High Priest would come to arrest Him? Did He think that a couple of swords would prevent Him from being taken prisoner? Why did Jesus need a sword?

After this, Jesus and His disciples went out to Gethsemane. Christ was fervently praying because the time was near for Him to be crucified. Judas brought the High Priest and his followers there so they could arrest Christ (Luke 22:48). Judas, who had spent years being taught by Christ, brought this group to arrest Christ on trumped up charges. The disciples had the swords they had purchased, so they asked - "Shall we strike with the sword?" (verse 49). Peter didn't wait for an answer (John 18:10), drew his sword and cut off the ear of Malchus, the High Priest's servant (Luke 22:50).

Surely, Peter must have thought, this is why we have swords - to defend the Messiah! But this was not why Christ had them buy swords. Christ then proceeded to tell them, "Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword," (Matthew 26:52). To show the crowd He intended no harm to come to anyone, Christ then healed the severed ear of Malchus (Luke 22:51). Christ told the disciples to buy a sword, but He didn't tell them to use it. Christ didn't need their protection - reminding them that He could call down legions of angels to aid Him if need be (Matthew 26:53-54).

The reason Christ told His disciples to buy a sword was to fulfill prophecy. "...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"'" (quoting Isaiah 53:12). Jesus told them to have a sword so the authorities would have justification to condemn Him as a criminal. The word translated "transgressor" can also mean "a rebel." When the mob came with the High Priest, they were armed expecting trouble (Matthew 26:47), and the presence of swords on two of the disciples (Luke 22:38) seemed to confirm their suspicions. By labeling Christ as one promoting rebellion to Caesar, the High Priest could have the Roman authorities take care of his "problem" (Luke 23:1-2).

By some estimates the Old Testament contains more than 300 prophetic passages that describe who the Messiah is and what He would do. No fewer than 29 prophecies were fulfilled in the 24-hour period leading up to Jesus' death. This is one of the proofs Jesus was the promised Messiah - the messianic prophecies were accurately and precisely fulfilled in Him. Jesus Christ was seeking to fulfill prophecy.  He came in the flesh to die for the sins of mankind (Hebrews 7:25-27, 10:12), and no matter the (false) charges He would willingly go to His death innocent of any charge or sin. The example Christ gave in this situation was to fulfill the will of, and place His trust in, His Father (Luke 22:42).

Christ didn't need swords to fulfill His role as our Messiah. We are not to fight for this world, but rather overcome the attitudes and characteristics so prevalent. We fight "...against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places," (Ephesians 6:12). We don't need swords to do that, we need God's spirit living in us.

I wish you a very wonderful Sabbath,

Dan Dowd

22 January, 2021