As Christians we are taught to rely on the Lord for everything, and that is the right thing to do. In many places we are told to trust the Lord to deliver us, and to lay all of our anxieties on him for He cares about us. We are told to come to the Lord in prayer and bring him all our anxieties as well as our praise.
So it becomes interesting in this section of scripture where the Lord seems to tell us to look out for ourselves. There is a message here that we need to understand.
The Lord Provides
There is no doubt that the Lord does provide for our needs and he answers our prayers when we come before him. There is too much evidence in our lives to consider anything different. In my own life I have seen the provision of the Lord in both big and small ways, so I am convinced of His care, provision and help in times of need.
An Exception to the Rule?
However in this section of scripture the Lord makes a few interesting comments. First He says, “When I sent you out with no purse or bag or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” (Verse 35)
Jesus was showing the disciples that they were provided for when they were doing His work. They were sent out to preach the Gospel of the kingdom of God and God provided for their physical needs through the work they did.
But then he goes on to say, “But now, let him who has a purse take it, and likewise a bag. And let him who has no sword sell his mantle and buy one.” (Verse 36) And the disciples responded saying, “And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough.” (Verse 38)
Here it appears that the Lord is saying they needed to take care of themselves and to look out for number one. It appears as if He is telling them to take matters into their own hands and that they would need to carry physical provisions and the security of a weapon.
Given all the weight of scripture that shows the provision of the Lord, why would He make this statement? In my opinion Jesus was making this comment for the sake of those who were there at the time more so than for our time. They were about to go through a difficult and treacherous event in the betrayal, trial and death of Jesus and they would for a period be left alone.
Jesus continued by saying, “For I tell you that this scripture must be fulfilled in me, ‘And he was reckoned with transgressors’; for what is written about me has its fulfilment.” (Verse 37) Jesus was about to be reckoned with his enemies as was prophesied about Him and His time on earth was coming to a conclusion.
After His arrest the disciples would be without His guidance, protection and leadership for a short period of time. It would be only a matter of days before He was tried, killed and resurrected. But in that time the disciples would feel lost and alone. So I believe part of his message to the disciples was to be prepared for the events of the next few days. They would be in fear and trembling at the prospect of what was happening, so in effect Jesus was telling them to prepare for the worst.
How Long Would This Last?
I have suggested they were in trying times, but it was only for a short period. Once the Lord was resurrected the disciples dejection and sorrow was turned to joy when they saw that death could not hold Jesus.
At one point in this forty day period, Peter said “I am going fishing,” and the others went with him. Essentially Peter, being a fisherman by trade, was turning back to his old life and old ways to provide for his needs. But though he was an experienced fisherman and the disciple toiled all night, they caught nothing. At dawn the Lord called to them from the shore asking if they had caught anything, and when they said no he told them to drop their nets on the right side of the boat. When they did this the nets immediately surrounded a great shoal of fish so big they could not haul the nets in.
Peter sprang from the boat know it was the Lord and swam to the shore. At this time the Lord instructed Peter, in essence telling him that he was no longer to rely on fishing or to carry on in that trade, but instead he was commissioned to do the work of the Gospel and the Lord. Jesus told Peter to teach and pastor His people for this is where his future lay, not in being a fisherman.
Given that this occurred in the forty days after the resurrection of the Lord, it is my opinion that Jesus only instructed the disciples to take up arms and to carry goods for the few days when He was separated from them and before they received the Holy Spirit.
Jesus appeared to many of them during the next forty days after He was resurrected, and then at Pentecost the disciples received the promised gift of the Holy Spirit. From that time on they began the real and serious work of spreading the gospel to the whole world and once again were trusting in the Lord to protect and provide, and that position has not changed down to this day. Those who are the Lord’s people can confidently trust and know that the Lord will provide all of their needs.
(Photo sourced from stock.xchng taken by Ivars Miezis)