31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” 33 Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” 34 Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.”
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.” – Luke 22:31-38 ESV
It’s clear from Mark’s account that, immediately after their celebration of the Passover meal,, Jesus and His disciples had left the upper room and made their way to the Mount of Olives, just across the Kidron Valley, east of Jerusalem.
And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. – Mark 14:26 ESV
It was there that Jesus made yet another disturbing announcement.
And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” – Mark 14:27-28 ESV
This foreboding prediction caught the disciples off-guard and caused the always quick-to-speak Peter to defend his own honor.
“Even though they all fall away, I will not.” – Mark 14:29 ESV
He was separating himself from the rest by declaring his undying commitment to remain by Jesus’ side no matter what happened. It was probably at this point in the conversation that Jesus spoke the words that Luke records.
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” – Luke 22:31-32 ESV
Jesus knew Simon well. He had spent more than three years attempting to disciple this impulsive and rather self-absorbed fisherman from Galilee. Peter was an over-confident over-achiever who regularly viewed himself as the unofficial and self-declared spokesman for the twelve. He had a strong competitive streak and a tendency to put his mouth in gear before his brain was fully engaged. This propensity often led him to say things he would later regret. And this would prove to be one such occasion.
Peter refused to accept Jesus’ assessment of his future faithfulness, but instead he argued that he was more than willing to lay his life on the line.
“Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” – Luke 22:33 ESV
These boastful words would come back to haunt Peter. He truly believed he was completely sold-out to the cause and willing to sacrifice anything to ensure that Jesus’ kingdom came to fruition. But what he didn’t know was the state of his own heart. Peter refused to accept the fact that he might be some kind of traitor or turncoat. Jesus must have had him confused with one of the other disciples. Yet Jesus made it clear that He had the right man by describing the exact nature of his wrong choice .
“I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.” – Luke 22:34 ESV
This must have hit Peter like a freight train. Jesus’ dire prediction left him stunned, embarrassed, and more than a bit defensive. Mark records that Peter immediately refuted Jesus’ accusation.
“If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” – Mark 14:31 ESV
In a desperate attempt to protect his own reputation, Peter essentially accused Jesus of being a liar. He denied Jesus’ assertion that he would be a denier. It’s important to remember that this entire conversation took place within earshot of the other disciples because when Peter made this bold claim, the other disciples echoed his words.
And they all said the same. – Luke 22:31 ESV
But at this point, Jesus redirected the topic of conversation by reminding them of their earlier mission when He had “sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal” (Luke 9:2 ESV). Jesus asked them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” (Luke 22:35 ESV), and they responded, “Nothing!”
Then, Jesus made a shocking statement that must have left the disciples in a state of confusion.
“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.” – Luke 22:36 ESV
With this rather strange pronouncement, Jesus was letting them know that things were about to take a radical change. Earlier, when He had sent them out by twos, they had been instructed to provide nothing for their own care. Instead, they were to rely on the gracious support of others. But with Jesus’ approaching death and eventual resurrection, the spiritual battle around them was about to enter a new and much-darker phase. Little did they know that the days ahead would be marked by increasing hostility and resistance. This is what Jesus had tried to explain to them on a much earlier occasion.
“Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword.
‘I have come to set a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.
Your enemies will be right in your own household!’” – Matthew 10:34-36 NLT
Jesus had not been suggesting that His mission was that of a physical revolution fought with swords and spears. He was letting them know that the gospel of the Kingdom of God was going to end up having a polarizing affect on humanity. Those who embrace the gospel would find themselves facing the anger and animosity of their own loved ones. Jesus went on to tell them that their decision to follow Him would come with a high cost.
“If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine.” – Matthew 10:37-38 NLT
Commitment to the cause of Christ would require a drastic change in priorities and alliances. Nothing was to stand in the way of their sold-out allegiance to Him. They would have to be willing to sacrifice everything for the cause. But Jesus assured them it would be well worth the effort.
“If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.” – Matthew 10:39 NLT
But was Jesus really suggesting that the disciples sell their possession order to purchase weapons? Was He condoning self-defense and physical violence? Some would suggest that is exactly what Jesus was doing. They point to Jesus’ response when one of the disciples indicated that they already had two swords in their possession. He said, “It is enough” (Luke 22:38 ESV). And if we fast-forward to later in the evening, when the soldiers came to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, Luke reports that one of the disciples responded to the intrusion by asking, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” (Luke 22:49 ESV). And before Jesus could say a word, “one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear” (Luke 22:50 ESV). It seems apparent that the disciples had taken Jesus’ admonition to arm themselves quite literally. And yet, Matthew reveals that Jesus did not approve of their actions.
“Put away your sword,” Jesus told him. “Those who use the sword will die by the sword. Don’t you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands of angels to protect us, and he would send them instantly? But if I did, how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that describe what must happen now?” – Matthew 26:52-54 NLT
The whole reference to swords was meant to be a metaphor that let them know that they were about to go into battle. But as the apostle Paul would later explain, the battle was going to be spiritual, not physical in nature.
For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. – Ephesians 6:12 NLT
And Jesus inferred that this was spiritual conflict that could only be won by spiritual means. He clearly indicates that if physical protection was the objective, He could have made a personal request to His heavenly Father and thousands of angels with flaming swords would have descended in an instant. But Jesus never made that request and those angels never appeared. This wasn’t case of a lack of weaponry. It was matter of God’s will.
When Jesus had said, “It is enough,” He wasn’t suggesting that two swords would be sufficient to defend the kingdom. He was letting His disciples know that God can do much with little. Just as Jesus had fed the multitude with five loaves of bread and two fish, God could and would accomplish great things through 11 men who were ill-equipped and unprepared for the raging battle that loomed before them.
And the apostle Paul went on to describe the nature of the armor and the arsenal the disciples would eventually use to wage war in the spiritual realm.
Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. – Ephesians 6:13-17 NLT
It is enough.
English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
The Message (MSG)Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson