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§ 271. Christ predicts the Danger of the Disciples in their new Relations to the People. (Luke, xxii., 35-38.)726726   Gfrörer asserts (Heilig. Sage, i., 336) that this passage was of later origin, and supports his assertion on the ground that the connexion of thought between verses 36 and 37 is false. Not so: verse 37 contains the ground of the change in the disciples’ condition, recited in verse 36; the execution of Christ as a transgressor, making him an object of aversion and disgust, was to react upon the condition of his followers. It is said, further, that the passage was inserted here because men stumbled at Peter’s conduct, as recited in verse 50. But it would be a strange way to get rid of this difficulty, to introduce a greater one, viz., an advice on the part of Jesus himself to his disciples, to provide swords above all things.

Certain fragments of Christ’s conversation at the table are preserved to us in the first three Gospels, not given by John, whose object was to record those profound and connected discourses which so strikingly exhibited the loftiness of his Divinity, his heavenly calmness and serenity of soul. Among these fragments are contained intimations, in a variety of forms, of the great change in their condition that was at hand. Reiteration and emphasis were necessary to break away their stubborn prejudices.

Reminding them of the first trial mission727727   Cf. p. 257, seq. on which he had sent them, with express directions to provide nothing for their journey, he asked whether they had then lacked any thing; and they said, Nothing. In 393that mission, they found the people of Galilee favourably disposed; no open hostility had been excited against Jesus; on the contrary, the fame of his actions inclined the people to acknowledge him, at least, as a man endowed with Divine powers. But now his own fate, and the consequent change of popular feeling, was about to react upon the disciples. Accordingly, he gave them—not rules for a new mode of life and conduct, but—a striking illustration, in figurative terms, not only of his own sufferings, but of the dangers that awaited them, from the sudden reflux of the popular feeling. The figures chosen were directly antithetical to those employed on the former occasion. “If I formerly bade you travel without purse, or scrip, or shoes (without provisions for the journey, as your wants would all be supplied); so now, on the contrary, I tell you that you shall find men differently disposed towards you. He that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip (all the necessaries of travel); and he that hath no purse728728   The antithesis is between ὁ ἔχων βαλάντιον and ὁ μὴ ἔχων. (money), let him sell his garment and buy a sword” (or knife). As if he had said, “You will hereafter need to care more for the safety of your lives than of your garments; you will need, more than all things else, means to carry you safely through the difficulties that will surround you.”

The whole connexion of these words taught the disciples that they were to be taken, not literally, but as the symbolical veil of a general thought. And they could easily have gathered from Christ’s example, from the spirit of his whole life, and from his teaching, in the Sermon on the Mount and elsewhere (if they were not utterly thoughtless hearers), that he could not really intend to bid them furnish themselves with swords.

From this change in the feelings of the world towards his disciples Christ naturally passed to his own fate, which was to cause that change itself. He told them that he was “to be reckoned among transgressors” as an object of hatred and abhorrence. Then said two of the disciples, “Behold, Lord! two of us are already provided with swords.”729729   The word may be rendered “knives;” and these were in common use among travellers in those regions for a variety of purposes. Language implying an utter misunderstanding of what he had said; a misunderstanding hardly to be expected in men who had so long enjoyed the Saviour’s personal society. But, perhaps, in justice to the disciples, we ought to suppose that their words were uttered in the confusion and distress of mind which his declarations occasioned. Perhaps Peter, the most hasty and headlong of the Apostles, who carried a sword, was one of the speakers. It was well that this misunderstanding was expressed, to be checked and done away. “It is enough,” said Christ, plainly showing that he had not the slightest intention 394to advise the use of weapons of defence, as two swords among them would have been nothing for that purpose. Perhaps, however, the phrase might be more correctly rendered, “enough of it;” i. e., a sign to drop the subject; as if a reproof of their tendency to stick to the words and literal features of his language, rather than to its spirit and sense.


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