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One of the things my poor, formerly evangelical mind has trouble wrapping itself around is that Jesus purposefully said things that were incomprehensible not only to those who opposed Him, but to His disciples, as well. The boldest example of this is when He told His listeners that they must eat His flesh and drink His blood (John 6:53-58). I guess Jesus hadn’t attended any church growth seminars. Surely, this seems counterproductive.

But wait just one second. This is the Creator of the universe speaking. God in the flesh.

It would behoove us to listen.

But that passage in John is another topic for another time. The truth I’d like to look at in this article is the time He told His disciples that they should buy swords.

And he said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” 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. 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.” And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough” (Luke 22:35–38).1

I can say with certainty that any one of us who had been there with Jesus that night would have interpreted what He said in the same way as the disciples. Jesus never talked about swords in any of His teachings except in a literal sense. Why would He do this? Why would He purposefully tell His disciples to buy swords, knowing that is exactly what they would have heard Him to say? They didn’t buy any, by the way, but just showed Him the two they had. Jesus didn’t correct them when they produced these weapons which He surely could have done. He simply said, “It is enough.” We know Jesus didn’t really want them to buy swords to fight because when Peter slashed off the high priest’s servant’s ear in Gethsemane, Jesus told him, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?” (John 18:11). Matthew recorded that Jesus said, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Matthew 26:52). Jesus then healed the poor man (Luke 22:51).

I think I know at least part of the answer to explain Jesus’ words. We know He spoke in parables so that everyone but His disciples would “see but not perceive” and “hear but not understand” (Mark 4:10-12). But here is Jesus speaking, not in a parable, but in a—what shall we call it—a divine secrecy.2 It seems that in this case He expected the disciples to figure it out by seeking understanding from the Holy Spirit, even if that understanding didn’t appear for a while.

Proverbs 25:2 says. “It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out” It is astounding, isn’t it, that God says He is glorified when He conceals things? But that isn’t the whole story. It’s also a glory for us kings and priests (Revelation 1:6 and 5:9-10) to search concealed things out. I don’t know why this searching is the “glory of kings,” but surely it’s a good thing.

Thus, God is glorified in our pursuit here and, somehow, it is good—glorifying—for us to discover, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, what in the world Jesus, our Savior, is talking about.

In the case before us, I think that we are to discover that Jesus was saying to His disciples, now that He would soon be absent physically from them, that they should sacrificially and purposefully do what they must, with great desire and diligence, to search out the truths in the Word of God, which is the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17), which pierces us even dividing one’s soul and spirit, discerning the thoughts and intents of our hearts (Hebrews 4:12). It is here that we learn the true Truth. It is here that we will find Jesus, who is the Word. God’s words are not just the opinion of irrelevant ancients. They are the thoughts of the one who created the universe—and you.

The hidden treasure and the pearl of great value are ours to find and make our own from the proceeds of the sale of lesser, temporal things (Matthew 13:44-46). This is the truth upon which our spiritual and eternal lives depend.

It is not a hobby.

Father, give the Church the desire to sacrificially seek out Your truth, no matter how opaque it may seem to us. Forgive us for taking Your words so lightly. Forgive us for our inattentiveness to Your words of life.


1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

2Ross, A. P. (1991). Proverbs. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs (Vol. 5, p. 1079). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

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