Daily Archives: October 13, 2019

St. Luke, Evangelist

The Work of an Evangelist

Luke was a physician, but he was also an exceptional writer and historian. It is wonderful to see such talent harnessed for God’s purposes. His example should inspire all of us to use our gifts and talents to their maximum effect in the service of our Lord.

The Apostle Paul wrote to his protegé Timothy:

As for you, always be sober, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, carry out your ministry fully.   (2 Timothy 4:5)

Luke understood the work of an evangelist. His whole Gospel was tailored to present the narrative of Jesus in an orderly and effective way. In his prologue to the Book of Acts he explains his purpose in writing the third Gospel:

In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.  (Acts 1:1-3)

Luke was a Greco-Syrian physician who lived in the Greek city of Antioch in Ancient Syria. He wrote from a non-Jewish perspective while Matthew wrote his Gospel from a decidedly Jewish perspective. Matthew emphasized that Jesus came to fulfill and clarify Mosaic Law. Luke emphasized that Jesus came to fulfill the Kingdom of God. We need both perspectives. Fortunately, Luke made the Gospel of Jesus Christ accessible to all people. Inasmuch as he was a traveling companion to the Apostle Paul it is easy to understand his point of view.

Luke stressed the work of the Holy Spirit both in his Gospel and in the Book of Acts. Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit:

Jesus went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.  (Luke 4:14-21)

Luke makes it clear that we should be anointed with the Holy Spirit as well. Such an anointing is required to do the work of an evangelist. In the beginning of the Book of Acts, he writes about the baptism with the Holy Spirit which Jesus imparted to all of His disciples:

Jesus appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”  (Acts 1:3-5)

The word from Luke to all of us today is “get anointed and get going for the Gospel.”

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Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost: Proper 23C

Track 1: The Ten Leapers 

Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7
Psalm 66:1-11
2 Timothy 2:8-15
Luke 17:11-19

The Jewish exiles in Babylon were demoralized. God spoke to them though the prophet Jeremiah:

Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease.   (Jeremiah 29:4-6)

The exiles had given up on life. God, on the other hand, is in the business of preserving life. Our time line is not his time line. We think in the moment, God operates for eternity.

During the time of Jesus’ ministry on earth, leprosy was considered incurable. Lepers were ostracized from the community. They were considered unclean and dangerous to be near. In today’s Gospel of Luke, ten lepers approached Jesus. He was their only hope, but they approached him from afar:

On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean.   (Luke 17:11-14)

Have we ever given up on life? Have we ever become so demoralized that we were unsure what to do next? The good news is that God is still with us. We are not alone. Jesus said:

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.   (John 10:10)

God wants to give us life. He wants to enrich our lives. How much we receive from him is up to us. He is no respecter of persons. He healed as Samaritan along with the Jewish lepers. Reading further in Luke:

Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”   (Luke 17:15-19)

The Samaritan had realized that God had opened a door for him to a new life. He, alone, returned to give thanks.

The psalmist wrote:

Bless our God, you peoples;
make the voice of his praise to be heard;

Who holds our souls in life,
and will not allow our feet to slip.   (Psalm 66:7-8)

God holds our souls in his hands. He will protect and support our lives for an eternity. How much do we put our trust in him? Enough to honor him and praise him above all that is in this world? This world will tear us down. Through the cross of Jesus Christ, God has lifted us up that we might be seated with him in heavenly places.

 

 

Track 2: Receiving Healing from God

2 Kings 5:1-3, 7-15c
Psalm 111
2 Timothy 2:8-15
Luke 17:11-19

Naaman was highly favored and he knew that he was. Reading from 2 Kings:

Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man and in high favor with his master, because by him the Lord had given victory to Aram. The man, though a mighty warrior, suffered from leprosy. Now the Arameans on one of their raids had taken a young girl captive from the land of Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “If only my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”   (2 Kings 5:1-3)

Through a circuitous, almost laughable  route he eventually arrived at the Prophet Elisha’s house in all his splender:

So Naaman came with his horses and chariots, and halted at the entrance of Elisha’s house. Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go, wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored and you shall be clean.” But Naaman became angry and went away, saying, “I thought that for me he would surely come out, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and would wave his hand over the spot, and cure the leprosy! Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them, and be clean?” He turned and went away in a rage.   (2 Kings 5:9-12)

What went wrong? Naaman was offended. He was not teated with the respect that he deserve, or though he thought. How many times have we missed a blessing from God because we first got offended? Perhaps more than we have realized.

Except for his leprosy, Naaman was on top. But now Naaman needed help. He was being ask to take more steps to receive help than he wanted to take, or that he felt were necessary. Fortunately, the wisdom of his servants persuaded him otherwise:

But his servants approached and said to him, “Father, if the prophet had commanded you to do something difficult, would you not have done it? How much more, when all he said to you was, `Wash, and be clean’?” So he went down and immersed himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; his flesh was restored like the flesh of a young boy, and he was clean.   (2 Kings 5:13-14)

Healing is best understood as a process. God is the healer. Is the great physician. He needs our cooperation for him to do his best work. Naaman not only needed his body cured, he needed an attitude adjustment. We need to humble ourselves before God. If we are to become good patients, then we should be prepared to exercise our patience as well as faith.

A complete healing is more than the cessation of our symptoms. We need to allow God to touch us at our innermost being. In today’s Gospel reading we have the account of Jesus healing ten leapers. When they asked him for healing, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. One out of the ten responded differently:

Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”   (Luke 17:15-19)

All of need healing at one time or another, from one thing or another. We appreciate our good doctors and nurses and their care. Do we appreciate the role that God plays. He is the only healer. All of his healings are miracles. We become one of his greatest miracles when we return to give him praise. Only then may we said to be whole. Our wholeness, our “‘sha•lem” can be found in God alone.

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