St. Luke (tr.) Trinity 18, 2019

The Epistle – 2 Timothy 4:5-15

The Gospel – St. Luke 10:1-7a

 

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

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The Feast of St. Luke has been transferred to this day, to continue our effort to celebrate and give thanks this year for the lives of such privileged and holy men…and angels as we saw a few weeks back…who played such an instrumental role in our Lord Jesus Christ’s ministry of salvation.

 

Each had a unique calling and a unique role to play.

 

St. Luke plays in important role in a few different ways, himself. He is not one of the 12 Apostles that Jesus chose. Many mistakenly think Luke is one of the 12 that was with Jesus.

 

He is believed to be a Gentile and not Jewish.

He is said to be a physician. St. Paul refers to a man named Luke and calls him, “Luke the beloved physician.”

 

 

 

The Church has generally held that the Luke mentioned by Paul today is the same Luke who wrote the Gospel with his name attached to it and the Book of Acts.

 

We prayed to God this morning in our Collect, who inspired His servant St. Luke the Physician, to set forth in the Gospel according to his testimony, the love and healing power of Christ Jesus. …hinting that Luke knows well the healing of the body – being a physician - was also well acquainted with the spiritual healing, that knowing the Lord Jesus brings.

 

And as is usually the case, we don’t have a lot of personal information on the man Luke.

 

He was with Paul on a few of Paul’s missionary journeys. He walked with Paul. He talked to Paul. He was eyewitness of much of what Paul and the other companions did in the way of evangelism, miracles, church planting…as well as being familiar with much of what Paul went through in the way of problems…imprisonments, shipwrecks, beatings, etc.

 

 

In fact, the Book of Acts is the account of the acts done by a few of the Apostles of Jesus including quite prominently St. Peter and St. Paul and a few others.

 

The Gospel of Luke is attributed to him as well. Both have similar introductions and Acts refers to the previous work, so it is pretty safe to understand and believe that both writings are the product of the same author.

 

 

 

 

Though Luke was not one of Jesus’12 Apostles, he is very clear that he did extensive research and probing and interviewing to produce what he wrote.

 

This attention to detail and scrutiny of facts is why he is believed to be the physician as - it is believed –

…a physician would have been a highly trained individual…trained to read and write, trained in detail and facts, trained for accuracy, research, inquiry and logging, journaling, recording.

 

 

So, the Gospel according to St. Luke and the Acts of the Apostles are both highly detailed books because of the care taken to assemble them.

 

The Church and the Prayer Book though, desire that we see in the writings of St. Luke today the healing power and love of Christ.   

 

As is the mission and desire of all of those early saints found in Scripture, their desire is to tell us about Christ.

Luke does not write an autobiography.

 

 

Even if you see him mentioned in his own Book of Acts, these acts are what we are to see…the miracles, the church growth, the spread of the Gospel is what we are to notice and focus on.

 

We see Luke and Paul and others there as obvious players, but our overall understanding of the writers of Holy Scripture are to point our attention to what God is doing….what Christ is doing in the world, growing His Church and strengthening His people.

 

Our lesson for the Epistle is what is chosen for today on the Feast of St. Luke.

This, of course is a letter from St. Paul, but how does this tie to Luke?

 

Paul writes, “As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”

 

Luke is called one of the four Evangelists. He carried the Evangel, the Good News of Jesus Christ and salvation in Him.

 

Why is Luke important to us?

Not because he is in the Bible or wrote Scripture, primarily, but because of what he wrote.

 

He wrote about the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus in His Gospel account and He wrote about the ongoing work of Christ when He sent the Holy Spirit to continue the works that He began when He was in the world with us.

 

Christ is still just as present powerfully and really because of what He is doing even now in the world to continue what He started in His ministry. 

 

Paul calls all Christians to be sober minded. This does not refer to alcohol directly, though that would also be included.

He calls all Christians to be in their right mind, sober, watchful, prayerful, thinking God’s thoughts after Him, withstanding all attacks and assaults.

 

Doing the work of an Evangelist. Not all are called to stand on the street corner and preach in the open air.

 

But we are all called to bear witness to Christ in “sobermindedness” of behavior. Thoughtful in all things. Using the gifts God has given to each of us.

 

Standing firm for truth. Pick any of Paul’s letters, Galatians 5:22–23

 

“love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…”(ESV) All to fulfil our ministry. We all have a ministry….not just the ministers.

 

All Christians have a life of ministry. In all things, we are to imitate Christ when possible.

 

Paul knew his time was short. He goes on today by saying, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. [7] I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. [8] Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.”

 

What a beautiful epilogue or summary of one’s life, along with a supreme sense of confidence and hope in the life to come.

 

My departure is come. I am going to die. I have fought the good fight, finished the race, kept the faith.

 

 

 

 

No matter how hard things were for Paul, Christ strengthened him sufficiently so that at the end of his own life, he could with confidence appeal to all that Christ had done to him, in him and with him to further the Gospel.

 

Henceforth there is a crown of righteousness, which Christ, the righteous judge will award not only to Paul, but to all who have “loved His appearing.”

 

This is written so that all of us would stay courageous and fight the good fight and finish the race that we run.

Paul invites us and exhorts us to participate in the same race and to receive the same crown.

 

Paul’s steadfastness and ongoing courage in spreading the Gospel of Christ serves as an example to us because the same hope of receiving the crown of righteousness is held out to us.

 

Not just to Paul, but to all who have loved His appearing. Who have loved what He did when He appeared the first time and look forward with hope to His second coming and second appearing.

 

Paul even here lists a few notable individuals he has dealt with in his travels.

 

He seems to be disappointed at some and angry at others for their behavior. Others he has sent with his blessing.

 

Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Demas seems to have not necessarily denied the Christian faith, but certainly was not up for the difficulties that Paul was enduring.

 

He is mentioned in other Epistles of St. Paul as a fellow worker. Sends his greetings to Churches.

Maybe there is just a great disappointment that Demas had chosen a path that was less strenuous than that of Paul.

 

Crescens [likewise left Paul and] ha(d) gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.

These men are sent to assist in Churches so that they would have clergy present to take care of their spiritual needs.

 

Then the reference, brief as it is, to Luke. “Luke alone is with me.”

 

If this is Luke the Gospel and Acts writer, then Luke is seen here certainly as a friend of Paul. An asset.

Perhaps if Luke is writing as they travel, Paul might have seen great value in keeping him along with him for the documenting of the Acts Christ was doing through Paul.

 

Apparently, a man named Alexander, who gets his name enshrined and inscripturated for all eternity certainly made in impact on Paul.

 

“Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. [15] Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message.” (ESV)

 

Alexander strongly opposed Paul’s message of the Gospel. And Paul, judging him rightly and justly, warns others about his behavior and hands him over to the Lord to make the final repayment in judgment.

 

The Gospel from today comes from St. Luke, but does not mention Luke.

 

Rather, is it Luke’s account of Jesus sending out the 70 in pairs to preach the Gospel.

 

Though we hear many times over that the harvest of souls is huge…plentiful…. (offertory sent)

…the millions of people who need saving are all out there waiting to have the Gospel told to them…the laborers are so very few.

 

He tells us to pray earnestly for lost souls to be harvested…to be called into the family of God’s people and find salvation. 

 

Jesus, as we heard here today, sent out men in pairs to different villages ahead of Him to let them know that He was coming…that the Messiah was coming…the salvation from sin is coming in the man Jesus Christ.

 

Don’t dawdle. Don’t waste time. Don’t stop to greet people at length. Just go and make the most of your time.

 

If you find a willing audience, spend time with them. Evangelize them. Give them the Good News.

 

If they don’t accept it or don’t want to hear it, move on. “Your peace will return to you.”

 

Augustine says of this, “We are not to fear…” if some don’t want to hear the Gospel.

 

“Our peace will return to us.

That means our preaching will profit us, not him. If the peace we preach rests upon him, it will profit both him and us.”[1]

 

So even if we preach and it falls on deaf ears, it will at least benefit ourselves to hear it once again.

 

So, St. Luke was intimately involved with the spread of the early Church. He saw the work St. Paul and others were doing for the sake of the Gospel.

 

Our Collect again today calls us to think upon the love and healing power of Christ.

Healing power and love.

 

It is because of love that God sent His Son. Luke writes about this for us…beginning with the incarnation and birth of Christ. 

 

It is because of love that Christ chose men to send out to found His Church. A small group in the big scheme of things and yet through that small band of preachers, the Church is what it is today.

 

St. Luke was part of this mission of harvesting souls for Christ. He was a companion of the greatest evangelist the Church has had.

St. Luke saw how St. Paul loved not his own life, but the glorious Gospel he was sent to preach and he chronicled much of that.

 

He looked forward with Paul to the crown of righteousness that awaited him in hope and anticipation.

 

As a physician, and evangelist and eventually a martyr, St. Luke would certainly know how the Gospel was a salve and a balm and a healing ointment for both soul and body.  

 

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

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[1] Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (p. 172). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.