At the establishment of the Lord’s Supper, Jesus told his apostles, “if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one” (Luke 22:36). But later in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus told his apostles, “Put your sword back in it’s place, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword” (Matthew 26:52). So did they need a sword or not?
Yes, the apostles would have need of swords, just not during Jesus’ arrest. There was a “large crowd armed with swords and clubs sent from the chief priests” (Matthew 26:47). In a sword fight, the apostles would have all been killed. So Jesus told them, “Put your sword back in it’s place, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” Jesus was not teaching passivism for all times. It is a mistake to interpret Jesus’ words out of the immediate context. It is also a mistake to teach passivism in the name of Jesus. Those Christians who serve in the military, on our police forces, or protect innocent victims from forces of evil should be seen as heroic, not sinful. True Christians are not passivists.
Of course, Jesus preached in his first sermon, “If someone strikes you on the right check, turn to him the other also” (Matthew 5:39). We should not take that literally, however, anymore than, “If your right eye causes you to sin, gorge it out and throw it away” (Matthew 5:29). Jesus often used figurative language to make a point, but Jesus never intended for his followers to be strict passivists, then, now, or ever.