Why is this Holy Gospel appointed for the commemoration of Saint Luke? We could say that it is because it is a reading from the Gospel according to Luke, but that does not really solve the problem. There are 24 chapters of Luke to choose from. Why this one?
Perhaps Luke was in this story. Epiphanius of Salamis, an early church father, says that Luke was one of the 70 sent out by Christ here in Luke ten.
But that seems like a long shot. Luke chapter one says, “Just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account.” These words imply that Luke was not one of those eyewitnesses from the beginning. Tradition says that Luke was a gentile, which would also make it unlikely that he would be one of the 70.
So what was Luke?
It would help if we knew what Luke was doing on missionary journeys with Saint Paul. Luke is called a doctor, and perhaps only in that function he supported the ministry of Paul. That would still be a lot. Paul was stoned, beaten, nearly drowned, and sometimes left for dead. After surviving these things, he still bore on his body wounds and infirmities from the physical punishment he suffered. Paul often needed a doctor, and Luke was that doctor.
When many people abandoned Paul, Luke remained faithful. Here is a quality we all should imitate. When we are tempted to choose an easier path, we should remember the example of Luke who stood by the Gospel and its preachers. How much easier to stay home than to stay by the side of Paul as he traveled endlessly and was put in prison and was literally shipwrecked for the faith. Perhaps Luke was even there when Paul was beheaded for the faith.
On the other hand, we know almost nothing about Luke. He is hardly mentioned in Scripture. He wrote more words of Scripture than any other author, but nothing of substance about himself. Luke is not known for persuasiveness, evangelistic zeal, or even for saying a single word. Yet the Lord used him for a great purpose.
Luke wrote a Gospel account, and then the book of Acts. This was a tremendous undertaking, requiring dedication, hard work, and perseverance. Also love for the Word of God, which had become incarnate in the Man from Nazareth. The Word also continued to spread abroad through preaching and teaching. Luke believed and loved the Word, by the grace of God’s Spirit.
By the same Spirit we should also love and dedicate ourselves to this Word.
Luke was not so much an evangelist, but he was an Evangelist. What I mean by that is that he was not, as far as we know, a preacher or spreader of the Gospel by mouth. But he wrote a Gospel account, and we call those four men who wrote Gospels “Evangelists”.
We often picture evangelists today as persuasive men who have burning passion for the lost, men who have limitless energy for speaking the Gospel into any situation. This paints an almost miraculous view of the talents of such men. We are probably not like that.
Luke was not those things either, as far as we know. Yet God used him.
The important thing is the Word! You have that Word too. You have exactly the same Word that Luke wrote down by inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
We often think that if only we had [blank] then we would tell others about Christ. We put all kinds of things in that blank. But you have the Word. You have the Gospel which is the power of God for salvation. What power is greater than that? Nothing.
Besides, we do not have to be a super evangelist. Speaking the Gospel in a simple way is enough. If we are somehow not able to do that, perhaps we can invite someone to worship. God gives each person different ability. You do not have to be as persuasive as a used car salesman in order to confess Christ in a small way. Perhaps God does not want used car salesmen evangelists anyway.
Perhaps, like Luke, we can pass on what we have received. Perhaps you can repost a sermon on facebook. Perhaps you can give someone a Portals of Prayer. Perhaps we merely support the life of the preacher or the upkeep of the sanctuary where the Gospel is preached. These are not mighty, superhuman works.
If you get the opportunity, be ready to give an answer to the hope that is within you. Namely, that Christ our Lord was born into human flesh, lived a life of trouble like we do, yet never broke the commandments, and then suffered and died to win peace for you.
What is that peace? It is peace between God and you. What a wonderful peace that is! When you have peace with God, then you do not fear death nor hell nor any punishment. You know that your Father will take care of you in every way – although not at every time and place and way that we want. He wisely cares for us, and if we were in charge of taking care of us, then we would end up in deep trouble. The destruction we would create by our foolishness would be eternal. But the joy and well-being we will enjoy because of God’s peace is eternal and unlimited.
Even now, we have peace. God has made His treaty with us that He will not forsake us. We cannot always see or feel this peace, so it is a peace that passes human understanding. But by faith we know that we have it. We see what Christ has done for us, and believe the promises He has made. So we know that the peace is real, and it is ours.
In our worship, we pass the peace back and forth. “The peace of the Lord be with you always.” “And with thy spirit.” “The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.” The blessing of peace gives what it says. We have the peace because God speaks it through the minister and through our fellow man. We also need reminders because our fleshly feelings tell us, “No! You don’t have the peace! Look at this bad situation! That one over there is even worse! Don’t believe that you have peace!”
But we are sons of peace. The peace rests on us, and it will remain there for eternity. We hear the promise, and we believe. Our Lord declares it, and we trust Him, and He will never break His covenant of peace with us.
In His Name and to His glory. Amen.
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