‘Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals’. Luke 10:4
Jesus doesn’t make it easy, does he?
He warns his disciples that they are going out like lambs in the midst of wolves and then he says ‘no’ to three things that might have made it easier for them to go go on their journeys.
‘Carry no purse‘, says Jesus.
Having no money would have been a challenge, even in Jesus’ time. If one remained in one’s home area, it would have been easier; there would be family members, friends, upon whose hospitality one could call. No matter how reluctant those visited may have been, there was a duty to show care towards people who were part of one’s family. But once the disciples were outside their home area, how would they cope? If they wanted to eat, if they wanted somewhere to sleep, where would they go if they had no money?
In the story of the Good Samaritan Jesus suggests that even people who had been attacked and robbed along the road could not expect to be kept for nothing.
What would people think of them, travelling with no money, they would seem like beggars. The disciples would have to depend on faith, trust that they would meet someone who would feed them, trust that they would meet someone who would give them somewhere to sleep. Without money, they would have no choice other than to have faith.
What does it say to Christians today when Jesus says ‘carry no purse?’
Few, if any Christians, would venture out today with no money at all whether it be cash in one’s pocket or plastic cards in one’s wallet, but do people become too concerned with money? Is there so much time storing up money for the future that there is no time to be the people God wants for today?
What would people think of Christians if they had no money?
‘Carry no purse’, says Jesus. How do people feel when they have left their purse or wallet at home? How would they feel about deliberately leaving it behind?
Jesus doesn’t just expect the disciples to take no money with them, he also forbids them to take any possessions: they are to carry ‘no bag‘.
The bag he talks about is called a ‘pera’ in the Greek langauge in which the New Testament was written. It was a small leather bag that was tied around the waste, it could carry no more than a few bits and pieces, but even it was prohibited.
What would people think of them? Travelling with no bag, they would seem like beggars.
The disciples must have wondered how they could go out not only with no money, but without even a bag in which to carry a few important things. They would be totally dependent on what others might give them.
Travelling light is a challenge. The low fares airlines have taught people how to travel without an accumulation of baggage, they have taught how to travel with only a small case or backpack, but imagine if even that had to be left behind.
How well would people cope if all they had was the clothes they were wearing? What would people think of them? Jesus would have asked us about how much they were attached to material things, he would have asked how important they were in people’s lives. If people had to leave behind all of their possessions, would they go?
No purse, no bag, and ‘no sandals’.
It was not that the disciples were going to go barefoot, just that they were to carry no spare footwear.
The roads in Jesus’ time were rough and dusty. Away from the few main roads used by the Roman armies, they would have been no more than tracks. Walking those roads would have taken a toll on any shoes and the cheap sandals the disciples would have worn were not the most durable of footwear. To head out on a journey with nothing into which to change, no other sandals to wear if the thong of one snapped or wore through, would have seemed a difficult thing to do. Having broken shoes would not only bring discomfort, what would people think of them?
Travelling with no shoes, they would seem like beggars. The disciples would have realized that not only must they leave behind money and possessions, but even what they wore would be reduced to a minimum.
How would someone cope if they had to face the challenge the disciples faced and had to simply travel with nothing more than what they are wearing? How many clothes are there in wardrobes? How many pairs of shoes? How many things are there that are never worn? Perhaps there are even things that are never worn? How much is there that is simlpy not needed? Is there a concern with what is needed, or with what people will think? If one had only the clothes one was wearing, how would it feel?
‘Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals’, Jesus’ words a severe challenge to the disciples. What do they say now?