Luke 22:31-38: Spiritual and Practical
September 9, 2021
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
(22:31-34) In Western culture, even in the church, we often gloss over the reality of the supernatural, but texts such as this remind us that Satanic adversary is real and active. We are in a spiritual battle. Oftentimes tensions at home, at church, in ministries, or in our own inner lives are more signs of the spiritual war in which we are engaged than more prosaic interpretations might suggest. We should not default to seeing the devil under every malady, nor excuse our poor behavior on “the devil made me do it,” but neither should we act as if our lives were only interpreted by human frameworks. There is a spiritual world. We are in a spiritual battle. What then should we do?
Paul teaches us about the armor of God, including the sword of the Spirit being the Word of God, and that we are to pray in the Spirit on all occasions. Jesus here models both the Word that he speaks, and now the prayer with which he prays. When under pressure, Christian, do not pray last of all; pray first of all. Do not give up easily from praying, but pray earnestly that you and others might not fail in faith, but would turn from any falling and afterwards strengthen others by your example.
Peter, as ever, is confident in his ability to do all that Jesus wants of him. Such confidence is a good thing, certainly better than laziness, but an older and more mature Peter would write letters that show a combination of zeal with wisdom. Here there is only zeal—we should pray that our zeal would not diminish as we grow older, but that it would be combined with wisdom too, fuel for the fire. Those who do not grow in wisdom find that their zeal burns out: we need fuel to keep the fire of zeal going.
(22:35-38) This section appears a little opaque. Why do they now need to be prepared in this sort of way? And why is Jesus encouraging them to take up arms, swords in particular? Given that Jesus will refuse the sword in just a few moments in verse 51, we know that this approval of the sword was not to be taken literally. Sometimes vivid metaphor is necessary to underscore the seriousness of a situation.
Here they are being told by Jesus that his death is coming, and that they will be left as orphans for a while—before he rises from the dead, and then sends them his Spirit. Be prepared is Jesus’ message in essence. There is nothing wrong with being practically prepared, and everything right. Just because we are in a spiritual battle does not mean that we are not also to use practical means. The most spiritual is often the most practical too. A heavenly-minded person is of the most earthly good, for they know where they are going, why they are going, and have the inner power to go with zeal—and wisdom.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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