Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Today we celebrate the day of Saint Luke the Evangelist. There is only one gospel, but four evangelists with their different perspectives on the life and works of Jesus Christ. They wrote their accounts, their testimony of the first coming of our Lord.
This evangelist, Luke, was mentioned in our epistle. Not as an evangelist, but whom St. Paul calls the "beloved physician" (Colossians 4:14). The apostle Paul held him in high regard as a companion and assistant (Colossians 4:14; Philemon 24; 2 Timothy 4:11). On Paul's second trip, Luke met him at Troas and accompanied him to Philippi (Acts 16: 10-17). On the third journey, Luke was again among Paul's companions, going with him from Philippi to Jerusalem (Acts 20: 5-21, 18). Later, Luke made the journey from Caesarea to Rome with Paul, the captive, and was with him in Rome (Acts 27: 1: Romans 28:16). During Paul's second captivity, Luke was with Paul again, for which the apostle was duly grateful.
However, Paul uses the word, evangelist, in regard to his student, Timothy, who received the letter: "But you be watchful in everything, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry."
Timothy accompanied Saint Paul on his second and third missionary journeys. He was converted to the Christian faith during Paul's first missionary journey. Paul ordained him a pastor by the laying on of hands (1 Timothy 2:14) and called him his son in faith (1 Timothy 1: 2, 18; 2 Timothy 1: 2). Timothy became pastor of the Corinth and Ephesus churches. It was while in Ephesus that Timothy received the two letters named after him. At one time he was also imprisoned, because the letter to the Hebrews speaks of his deliverance (Hebrews 13:23).
To preach the Word of God and administer the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper is an office instituted by Jesus Christ himself. Our Lord called the 12 apostles first to leave their work and families to proclaim his gospel, and baptize and make disciples to the ends of the earth. Jesus gave the apostles the authority to preach the sacraments, also to train and ordain their successors.
"The harvest is indeed great, but the laborers few; therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into his harvest."
But, our Lord was constantly looking for more workers. In addition to the twelve he had chosen as his representatives, Jesus in our gospel for today (Luke 10: 1-9) appointed others, seventy in all. In other verses we read that these men followed Jesus from the beginning of his public ministry to the ascension. From this seventy, Matías was chosen to replace Judás Escariot between the apostles.
The seventy were sent to prepare the way for him in parts of Judea, where the Lord was comparatively unknown. Jesus sent them two by two, seeking companionship and mutual help.
"Go, behold, I send you forth as lambs in the midst of wolves." In general, these marching orders did not differ from those given to the apostles, because the circumstances were practically the same. The order was to leave; but the Lord tells them frankly that their position would resemble that of lambs in the midst of wolves. They must have known from the beginning that their helplessness was absolute, when it came to their own strength. The enemies that would arise to fight them would be much more powerful than they, that with their power nothing could be done; your only trust should be the Lord and His protection.
"Do not carry a bag, no saddlebag, or footwear; no longer greet anyone on the way. In whatever house you enter, first say: Peace be to this house. And if there is a son of peace there, your peace will rest on him; and if no, it will return to you. And stay in that same house, eating and drinking what they give you; for the worker worthy of his wages. Do not go from house to house. And in whatever city you enter and they welcome you, eat whatever is set before you, and heal the sick who are in it, and tell them: The kingdom of God has drawn near to you. "
They should not explore from house to house, looking for the best place to stay, but should stay in the house where they first entered. And there they were to eat and drink the meat and drink that belonged to the people of the house as if they were theirs. What was said of individual houses was repeated with regard to entire cities. Wherever the reception is friendly and in keeping with the dignity of their vocation, there they must remain, eating whatever is put before them.
Article XIV of the Augsburg Confession reads as follows: Regarding ecclesiastical government, it is taught that no one should teach publicly in the church or preach or administer the sacraments without legitimate calling. This ministry is also called the pastoral office. In the New Testament, the words, "bishop," "pastor," and "priest" are used to mean the pastoral office without distinction. All ministers in the church have the authority to preach and administer the sacraments. Only at the end of the first century did the title of bishop apply only to the highest ecclesiastical official in a city or district.
Philip Melanchthon wrote like this in his "Treatise on the Power and the Firstfruit of the Pope." “So Jerome teaches that the distinction of degrees between bishop and elder or pastor is one of human authority. Reality itself testifies to it, because the power is the same, as I have already stated above. But then one thing made a distinction between bishops and pastors, this is ordination, because it was established that a bishop ordained ministers in a number of churches. But since the distinction between bishop and pastor is not of divine right, it is manifest that the ordination administered by a pastor in his own church is valid by divine right. "
To desire the trade is a good thing; this is the inner calling. But that is not enough for this amazing privilege and duty. The candidate for the office must be examined and approved by other ministers, called by a local congregation, and ordained a pastor through the laying on of hands and the prayer of other pastors.
Those called to the pastoral office must work for the church, to care for and be examples to the flock until death. Just as the call to the apostles was for life, so is the call of the pastor. The divine call is not a contract for a specified period of time, such as one or two years, nor is the pastor a wage earner. Only God has the right to determine when such calls end. A pastor can be removed from office only for false teaching, for living an immoral life, or for physical or mental disability. God is at work when such decisions are made prayerfully and with due reverence.
The preaching of God's Word of grace must always remain the primary function of the Christian preacher and pastor. He must rebuke all forms of error and sin, both in doctrine and in life; it should rebuke sin in all its forms, even when it appears that transgressors are unwilling to show proper pain; it should accuse or exhort the parishioners, inspire them to love everything that is good and pleasing to God.
Paul's love for Timothy compels him to emphasize the need for faithfulness in his office as pastor. Due to the high dignity of the ministerial office, the apostle is not satisfied with a mere reminder of his obligations. He solemnly exhorts his young co-worker in the presence of God and the Lord Jesus as invisible witnesses, and yet present in person. The apostle describes Christ as the One who will judge the living and the dead. All men will have to appear before the judgment seat of Christ, both the living and the dead, the dead raised from their graves and the living transformed. Although His life, ministry, suffering and death were according to His humiliation, the exercise of His office as Judge of the world will be in the form of the exalted Son of Man, the great King of kings and Lord of lords. His work as a Judge will thus accord with the majesty that was imparted to His human nature.
The harvest was great: therefore the need for able men to participate in the great work of Kingdom preaching was urgent. This has been the case at all times since the days of Jesus and will continue to be so until the end of time. The fervent prayer of all sincere Christians must be raised to the Father of all grace and mercy to send workers into his harvest, to make many young people willing to hear his call, and for many others to take the privilege upon themselves.
The peace that passes all understanding be with you. Amen.
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