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Traveling with a Sword

Traveling with a Sword

By David G. Duggan
Special to Virtueonline
January 23, 2018

For some reason, travel makes me more anxious than just about anything and the extra hassles since 9/11 haven't made my life any easier. I guess I've passed the point where travel is an adventure but years ago I traveled widely: whether to college, to visit grandparents or for business. Now I have a hard time getting motivated to go to the grocery store, let alone take a trip out of state.

This late stage indolence may have Biblical comparisons if not origins. Moses wandered with his people for 40 years before settling down in an encampment just shy of the promised land (Deut. 33-34). David's journeys, initially spurred by a jealous Saul, waned in his later years as he repaired to his chamber with a Shunammite woman (I Kings 1: 3). Though Paul traveled throughout the Roman world, the rest of the Apostles seem to have stayed in one place after leaving Jerusalem. Most died martyrs' deaths in their adopted lands.

Jesus advised His disciples to travel lightly when going out to preach the Word (Luke 10:4), easily obeyed in this day of no-frills airlines and bag fees. On the night before He died, He reminded them that they had lacked for nothing, but then said that they should sell their cloaks and buy a sword (Luke 22: 35-36). Though swords aren't the standard accoutrement of today's travelers, safety while away was as much a concern of Jesus as was the message of peace that His followers offered.

As much as anything these days travel is an act of faith: that the aircraft has been maintained, that the pilot has been trained, and that the laws of physics will not be suspended mid-flight. While Jesus may have been able to foresee winged flight, His more earth-bound message that His followers should welcome the hospitality offered at their destinations tells a lot about how He viewed human interaction. Being dependent on the kindnesses of others is not mere economy--it is a statement that we as believers mirror the sacrifice that Our Lord made: expecting nothing and receiving death, He showed that the host receives the sacrifice as much as the guest.

Modern travel may bear little resemblance to its ancient counterpart: dusty sandals are but an ancient metaphor for barefoot steps through a TSA-scanner. Yet when we get to our destination by the grace of God, we still have faith that the blessing to offer our companions the message of communion in Him be received with the welcome that Jesus is present wherever we travel.


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