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Archive for October 18th, 2012

The key treasure of the Gospel,  re-found by Luther and the Blessed Reformers is  Justification. On this Festival of St. Luke “justification” is central.

In the parable of the Pharisee  and the tax collector (Luke 18: 9-14), the Lord uses the word, “justified”  (see Luke 18:13-15).  It was not the tax collector’s works that saved him and the Pharisees trust in them is misplaced trust: in himself as his own savior.

Luke traveled with Paul and it would seem, given the Apostle’s extensive use of the word “justification” in his epistles, that he  learned the Word via Luke and from the Lord’s own lips.  Justification by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, was rediscovered by Martin Luther. There is apostolic succession…of evangelical doctrine first, foremost, front and center!  Pastors and bishops can only be in the train of the apostles by teaching and preaching justification in all it’s fulness. The tax collector knew he was a sinner and so confessed and so was justified, made right, by faith through God’s grace in Jesus Christ. The tax collector finally boasted only of the Lord, whereas the Pharisee boasted only of himself and how he thought he saved himself.

Related to the above, of the 1,000 times the name Jesus is used in the Gospels and the New Testament, there is only one time all 4 of the Gospels when a person addresses the Lord by using His first Name only:  the thief on the cross! Luke 23:41-43 The other thief was trying to find a way out without forgiveness, a loophole.  But the other thief told him,  “…for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds…”   He knew the Law condemned him and there was no way out on his own.  So he prayed and confessed  to the Lord right next to him all his sin:  “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”  Then came the Lord’s Word of forgiveness:  Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”  Jesus!  The Name means “God saves”, Emmanuel, God with us.  In His Word of forgiveness we are saved.  And here in Luke, as in the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, a clear distinction of Law and Gospel:  the Law kills and the Gospel makes alive! Luke’s traveling companion learned this lesson well as attested in Paul’s Epistles.  We thank the Lord for Luke whom He chose to write most of the New Testament!  Blessed feast day!

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Almighty God, our Father, Your blessed Son called Luke the physician to be an evangelist and physician of the soul. Grant that the healing medicine of the Gospel and the Sacraments may put to flight the diseases of our souls that with willing hearts we may ever love and serve You; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Lessons for the Day:

Psalm 147:1-7
Isaiah 35:5-8
2 Timothy 4:5-15
Luke 10:1-9

Biblical Bio:   

St. Luke, the beloved physician referred to by St. Paul (Colossians4:14), presents us with Jesus, whose blood provides the medicine of immortality. As his traveling companion, Paul claimed Luke’s Gospel as his own for its healing of souls (Eusebius). Luke traveled with Paul during the second missionary journey, joining him after Paul received his Macedonian call to bring the Gospel to Europe (Acts16:10-17).  Luke most likely stayed behind in Philippi for seven years, rejoining Paul at the end of the third missionary journey inMacedonia. He traveled with Paul to Troas, Jerusalem, and Caesarea, where Paul was imprisoned for two years (Acts 20:5-21:18). While in Caesarea, Luke may have researched material that he used in his Gospel. Afterward, Luke accompanied Paul on his journey to Rome (Acts 27:1-28:16). Especially beloved in Luke’s Gospel are:

  • the stories of the Good Samaritan ( Luke 16:29-37),
  • the prodigal son (Luke15:11-32),
  • the rich man and Lazarus  (Luke16:19-31),
  • and the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14).
  • Only Luke provides a detailed account of Christ’s birth (Luke 2:1-20)
  • and the canticles of Mary (Luke1:46-55),
  • of Zechariah (Luke 1:68-79),
  • and, Simeon (Luke2:29-32).

To show how Christ continued His work in the Early Church through the apostles, Luke also penned the Acts of the Apostles. More than one-third, the New Testament comes from the hand of the evangelist Luke.  (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)

Reflection:  A thorough Biblical scholar, in a commentary, will translate the book under consideration.  Below are the first few verses of St. Luke’s Gospel, as translated by Dr. Arthur Just in his excellent two-volume commentary on the Gospel, publishing by Concordia Publishing House:

Since many have endeavored to reproduce a narrative concerning the events that have come to fulfillment among us,  just as those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning and became ministers of the Word delivered these traditions to us, it seemed good to me also, after investigating from the beginning every tradition carefully, to compose systematically a narrative for your benefit, most excellent Theophilus, in order that you come to recognize completely the reliability concerning the words by which you have been catechized.

This past week a high school confirmand had a question about the reliability of the Bible. I reproduce Dr. Just’s translation because d it highlights the following points which may be helpful regarding the historical truthfulness Luke and the Bible in general.

1.     It is clear from Luke’s introduction, in flawless Greek, he wants to give Theophilus an accurate account of the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ.  Luke knew the people who were there and he interviewed the “eyewitnesses”.  We were not there from the beginning, Luke was.  He probably knew Mary, Mother of our Lord.  He knew the apostles, including Paul.   Luke tells us he did this carefully. He is also a brother in Christ.  A brother in Christ is honest and trustworthy.  It is clear Luke did not write his Gospel for personal financial gain at all.  What did he stand to gain from writing a dishonest narrative?  Nothing. He wanted Theophilus to know the certainty of the Way in which he had been “catechized”, taught the Way, because Jesus Christ is our Savior.  Luke’s gain is only Christ’s gain:  a baptized and saved Theophilus and you as well. From Dr. Just’s Commentary:

“the ‘us’ among whom these ‘things which have been accomplished’ (1:1-4) would be all the Christians whose testimony is borne in the narrative.”

2.  Luke uses the word “catechized”.  The Gospels are history and as the history of  our lives, there is meaning.  Theophilus was catechized, taught in the Way, as a “follower of the Way”, the meaning of the Word and Work of Jesus Christ.  Theophilus was taught God’s Word and many were eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word.  The fruit of faith is shown in works of love.  “Theophilus” means “love of God”.  Many have asked, Who was Theophilus?  One answer:  all of us, the love of God.  This history of Jesus is the good news, the Gospel which not only informs but forms us in His Word, sinners who are simultaneously  saints by faith, given through grace.  

Again Dr. Just:

Paul says that in the Christian assembly, he prefers rational words, not speaking in tongues, so that he may “catechize” those present (1 Cor 14:19)…

This faith comes through the gospel’s additional catechesis  that assures of reliability….”Catecheo”  (“to catechize, instruct, inform”) occurs four times in Luke-Acts (Lk 1:4; Acts 18:25; 21:21, 24) and three times in Paul (Rom 2:18; 1 Cor 14:19; Gal 6:6). Acts 18:25 has the same meaning as here: Apollos “had been catechized in the way of the Lord.”

3.  We  understand the truthfulness of Holy Scripture by Luke’s phrase, regarding the ministers of the Word,  “delivered these traditions to us…”  The use of the verb “delivered” is used by Paul (Luke was his companion on some of the Paul’s missionary journeys) for handing over the Words  of Institution of the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:23) and the eyewitness accounts of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:3)  Traditions here are not man-made traditions, but rabbinic traditions precisely delivered:  verbatim.  These brothers had the highest regard for the written and spoken Word of God and were not going to mess around with it, because man does not live by bread alone but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God.  We pray:

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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