Luke 22: “Trust in God and Keep Your Powder Dry”

Oliver Cromwell before the start of the invasion of Ireland, looked at his men and said, “Trust in God and keep your powder (gun powder) dry.

This is similar to the quote I remember reading from Mark Batterson’s book, Circle Maker, “Pray like it depends on God. Work like it depends on you.”

Both of these quotes lean in the same direction: Trusting in God and having faith are important, but there’s still work to be on our end as well.

As we begin winding down in Luke we find ourselves today in the Upper Room with the disciples. It’s here that Jesus instructs his disciples one last time before moving to a time of prayer in the garden. I have to admit to you, the passage we’re going to look at today was a little foreign to me. I had a, “I’ve read this a thousand times, but I’ve never seen this before, type of moment.

After the meal was over and the disciples were sitting around talking to Jesus, Jesus gives them instructions they’ve never heard before. In fact, it was opposite of the instructions he gave them before sending them out two-by-two. 

Luke 22:35-38 (NLT) 35 Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you out to preach the Good News and you did not have money, a traveler’s bag, or an extra pair of sandals, did you need anything?”

“No,” they replied.

36 “But now,” he said, “take your money and a traveler’s bag. And if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one! 37 For the time has come for this prophecy about me to be fulfilled: ‘He was counted among the rebels.’ Yes, everything written about me by the prophets will come true.”

38 “Look, Lord,” they replied, “we have two swords among us.”

“That’s enough,” he said.

But Now

And if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one! (insert record scratch hear) Wait… What? Something so revolutionary is about to happen that if I don’t have a sword I need to sell my cloak (an item of great importance) and get one? Simon the Zealot, you know, the crazy disciples with the twitchy eye, must have been pumped! But what does it mean?

Jesus here, in a short as matter of fact manner, is explaining that the situation is about to change. The number one thing Jesus is communicating is, BE PREPARED. It would seem that these instructions stand in conflict to the instructions found in Luke 9:3 “Take nothing for your journey,” he instructed them. “Don’t take a walking stick, a traveler’s bag, food, money, or even a change of clothes, and they do, but it’s because the situation is changing quickly and soon it will be dire. Again, we have to heed Jesus’ words here to his disciples that crises is just around the corner and the sword will be for defense, not offense.

Isaiah 53:12

In the midst of his coaching, Jesus quotes a scripture. Now, the scripture he quotes seems insignificant until you recognize where it comes from. The exact quote can be found in Isaiah 53:12, “I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier, because he exposed himself to death. He was counted among the rebels. He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels. But what Jesus is actually communicating is that he is the fulfillment of the entire chapter of Isaiah 53, The Suffering Servant.

Not fully understanding, the disciples begin to search for swords… Twitchy Eyed Simon probably had both on him! We’re not sure if Jesus’ words of, “That’s enough,” were in regards to only needing two swords, or if he was done with the conversation, but either way, the disciples would soon learn that, in a few short days, life would never be the same.

Takeaway For Today

Walking by faith is admirable and necessary, but at times it can also be a copout. I’m not talking about the faith it takes to believe without seeing, I’m talking about some of the teaching out there that you can sit around doing nothing, anticipating that God will provide. God desires to provide, but he won’t reward blatant stupidity or laziness. We need to heed the advice of Oliver Cromwell, “Trust in God and keep your gun powder dry.” Again: Trusting in God and having faith are important, but there’s still work to be on our end as well.