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Posts Tagged ‘St. Luke’

The New Testament Reading for this Day in the Daily Lectionary: The Parable of the Ten Minas

11 As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. 12 He said therefore, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. 13 Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’ 14 But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’ 15 When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business. 16 The first came before him, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.’ 17 And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’ 18 And the second came, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made five minas.’ 19 And he said to him, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’ 20 Then another came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; 21 for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ 22 He said to him, ‘I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? 23 Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’ 24 And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’ 25 And they said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten minas!’ 26 ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 27 But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.’”

Commentary:  The parable is prompted by the expectation that the kingdom of God would appear right then and there.  Our Lord taught this parable in between inviting Himself to Zacchaeus’ home and the Triumphal Entry.  In the former He is accused of eating with sinners.  In the latter He will die for sinners, atoning for their sins.  In the former, He is the King at the table of a sinner, in the latter, He enters as King in lowly pomp to die.  Verse 11 is clear that the crowds supposed that the glorious Kingdom was about to appear. This parable in the Lord’s response.  In the parable Jesus is the nobleman who “…went into a far country”.  The “far country” put me in mind of the famous soliloquy by Hamlet who is contemplating suicide and so death and wonders,

who would burdens bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover’d country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will

Hamlet would rather bear the burdens of this life than to go to that “undiscover’d country”, from which “no traveler returns”.  Jesus from chapter 9 has been on the journey to Jerusalem for one purpose: to go into that “undiscover’d country”, not bearing His burdens, for He has no sin and so no death, but ours, to the grave.  He has returned.  And gist of the parable is that He will return again, this time from heaven, to give an accounting of what we did with His minas.  What do  the “minas”, these silver coins, signify?   The servants in the parable are clear, “…your  mina has made ten minas more…”.  Note:  it was not the servant that increased the mina, but the mina did, that is, the Lord’s utter gift of Word and Sacrament, His riches, that is, the “unsearchable riches”(Ephesians 3:8) of His grace for burdened sinners.   His grace is not to be hidden away (verse 20).  His light is not to be hidden away (St. Matthew 5:16). Those who mock and despise the nobleman, the only Noble Man ever to walk upon the earth, and His grace,  it would have been better for Sodom, Tyre and Sidon than those who reject His disciples bearing the minas of His grace! (Luke 10:12;Luke 10:  14).

Even at the Ascension, the disciples are still wondering about an eternal kingdom out of this world of sin and death (Acts 1: 6-8) .  It won’t happen, and such ‘eternal kingdoms’ have been tried again and again.  The Lord will return and in the meantime, people need to hear of so great a salvation of the Lord who died and rose, a kingdom like no other on earth!  He rules not to end life but to give His.  His  rule appears most unexpectedly: by His forgiveness as He is risen and ascended.

The riches of His grace, His Atonement, His paradise will be enlivened with the fire of the Holy Spirit.   

O God, Who vast pleased to send on Thy disciples the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, in the burning fire of Thy love, grant to Thy people to be fervent in the unity of faith; that evermore abiding in Thee, they may be found both steadfast in faith and active in work ; through Jesus Christ our Lord who lives and reigns with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, now and forever, and unto the ages of ages.

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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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Prayer of the Day

O God, who alone knits all infants in the womb, You chose improbable servants—old and childless—to conceive and parent the forerunner of Christ and, in so doing, demonstrated again Your strength in weakness. Grant us, who are as unlikely and unworthy as Zechariah and Elizabeth, the opportunity to love and serve You according to Your good and gracious will; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, now and forever.

About Zechariah and Elizabeth:  Zechariah and Elizabeth were “righteous before God, walking blamelessly in the commandments and statutes of the Lord” (Luke 1:6). Zechariah, a priest in the Jerusalem temple, was greeted by the angel Gabriel, who announced that Zechariah and Elizabeth would become parents of a son. Initially, Zechariah did not believe Gabriel’s announcement because of their old age. For his disbelief, Zechariah became unable to speak. After their son was born, Elizabeth named their son John.  Zechariah conformed his wife’s choice, and his ability to speak was restored.  In response, he sang the Benedictus, a magnificent summary of God’s promises in the Old Testament and prediction of John’s work as forerunner to Jesus (Luke 1: 68-79). Zechariah and Elizabeth are remembered as examples of faithfulness and piety. (Modified from The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)

Reflection:  The Gospel according to Luke begins with the birth of John and Jesus.  As part of the warp and woof of the narrative is the praise of God in what could be called Psalms:

  1. The Magnificat, Mary’s Song of Praise:  St. Luke 1: 46-55
  2. The Benedictus, Zechariah’s Song of Prophecy, St. Luke 1: 67-69
  3. The Gloria in Excelsis Deo, the Song of the Angels, St. Luke 2: 14
  4. The Nunc Dimittis, the Song of Simeon, St. Luke 2: 29-32

The titles of these psalms is from the Latin Vulgate translation and reflect an old tradition of naming a psalm after the first word in the song:  1. Magnify;  2. Blessed; 3. Glory in God in the highest;  4. Now depart.  All of these songs have been included in either the Prayer offices of the Church and/or the Divine Service.

In their old age, like another “unworthy and unlikely” couple centuries before,  Abraham and Sarah, the priest and his wife would have a son:  the son to be the forerunner of the very Son of God, the Messiah.  What almost becomes overlooked by the faithful and diligent reader of the Word is that the Lord’s promises come through married couples and their families: Adam and Eve, Noah and his wife, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Rachel and Leah and throughout all generations to Zechariah and Elizabeth and another unlikely couple:  Joseph and Mary.  Why does the Lord do so?  I do not think we know directly from Holy Writ but we do know the Lord created marriage and family,and it was good.  And given the state of the family, yes, even in the Bible, the contrast between His saving promise and our utter need for His salvation is clear!  Only He can breach the gap and has. He did not want His love of His good creation,  in bondage to sin, to end but be extended in His redeeming in the fullness of time: the gestation and birth of His only-begotten Son.  His promise of redemption could only find it’s home in a family for the generations of humankind.  Therefore,  Zechariah had much to sing about in the  praise and blessing of  the Name of the Lord in  his  marriage to Elizabeth! How do we know salvation and the Lord who is our Savior:  Answer: “by the forgiveness of our sins”: 

68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
   for He has visited and redeemed His people
69and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
    in the house of His servant David,
70 as He spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, 71 that we should be saved from our enemies
   and from the hand of all who hate us;
72 to show the mercy promised to our fathers
   and to remember His holy covenant,
73 the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us
 74that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
might serve him without fear,
 75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
76And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
   for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
77to give knowledge of salvation to his people
    in the forgiveness of their sins,
78because of the tender mercy of our God,
   whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
79to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
   to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (St. Luke 1)

The Benedictus is the song sung every day  in Matins. As John paved the way for the coming of Jesus the Christ, so by the Lord’s promise fulfilled to Zechariah, we each and every day in prayer, in the Benedictus, prepare our selves for the work of the Messiah in our vocations. Matins is good way to begin the day.

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