It seems to be a pattern by now. Every time I’m about to take a really significant step in ministry, I have these really weird — disturbing — dreams. The last time was just before I was about to begin the ladies Sunday school class. I was taking a nap on a Sunday afternoon (something I no longer have the luxury of doing), and I woke up totally horrified because I had just found myself in a bar totally smashed and out of control. I was so creeped out by that dream that I momentarily thought about backing out of teaching the class. Well, those kinds of fears don’t stalk my dreams anymore, thank the Lord. But what’s this I woke up with today?
This morning I found myself driving around in a sea port town – kind of a city actually – with some reasonably tall buildings and closely packed streets. For some reason which remains a mystery, I parked the car in a lot and started pushing this lawnmower that was in the trunk around the streets. Why on earth I’m pushing a lawnmower around in the city when there’s no grass to be seen is another mystery.
As I came up to one street corner, there was a particularly bad pothole, and I hit it hard. This did a number on the rear wheels of the lawnmower. The left rear looked okay but wasn’t rolling smoothly anymore. The right rear had a big gash through the rubber and was crooked. I was starting to panic because of how badly I had ruined the lawnmower.
Then some old guy came along. He looked to me like an old homeless drunk, but he knew WAY too much about my lawnmower. He took off the one wheel that was broken, and then said, “You need to go to the Suzuki shop and get this fixed.” I looked down and, sure enough, it’s a Suzuki lawnmower. (Does Suzuki even make lawnmowers?) So through several twists and turns through this city, he led me to within sight of the Suzuki shop, and then he disappeared. At this point, I remember thinking that I had no idea where my car was anymore, but right now I just needed to get the lawnmower fixed.
So I entered the Suzuki shop, and it was full of really interesting stuff, but no lawnmowers. Strange. There’s a back room, and I can see someone wandering around back there. Maybe that’s where the lawnmowers are. So I wandered to the back with my broken lawnmower, and a man comes out of the back room and asks how he can help me. I said, “I’ve broken my lawnmower. Can you fix it?” He took the lawnmower from me and lifted it up to take a good look, and I woke up.
Clues: Sunday morning one of the ladies asked a question about Luke 22:36-38. Why did Jesus tell the disciples to get swords if they weren’t supposed to use them? Good question. I had to come home and chew on this and get some pastoral insight, as well. In the process of trying to hash this out so I understand it myself before taking it up again next week, I wrote the following in an email to my pastor.
My first clue is that this seems to be yet another (of many-John’s Gospel is full of these) instance when the disciples and Jesus are thinking on two different levels. Jesus is speaking spiritually somehow and the disciples are taking him literally/materially and totally miss the point. So Jesus is talking about spiritual things again, and the disciples remain firmly anchored to the material and don’t get the intended meaning at all. The second clue that this is the case is that 2 literal swords aren’t enough to provide any real protection from the company of soldiers that is about to arrest Jesus, and they don’t actually have time to go out and sell their clothes and buy more before they would be needed, and Jesus then proceeds to heal the one man who was injured by one of these literal swords, so it appears that literal swords are not what Jesus is referring to.
It then occurred to me that this could be an instance when Jesus wants to teach them something. The feeding of the multitude comes to mind as an example of what I’m talking about – where Jesus tells the disciples to feed the crowd and they totally approach it the wrong way because they can’t see past their own noses. It almost seems like he’s doing the same thing here – he tells them to make all these preparations, but they go about it entirely backwards because they’re not thinking on the spiritual level yet. I started wondering about this possibility when I read paragraph C on page 434 of the commentary you gave me tonight. There it is talking about knowing versus not knowing the weakness of human flesh and how Peter was so confident in his own natural strength. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if this whole discussion about scrips and swords was meant to drive home the point just made in verse 34 that Peter was about to fail because he was relying on his flesh.
Any relationship between these things? A lawnmower is certainly the wrong tool to have in a city with no grass, just as a literal sword was the wrong tool for Peter to have in Luke. Hmmmmmm……by beakennedy