by The Rev. Rich Heinz
Many people don’t enjoy doctor visits. Some even avoid them. In spite of that, the time spent in hearing the doctor’s advice and receiving his treatment can be soothing, healing, and even life-saving.
October 18 is our annual appointment with Dr. Luke. Today is a day that the Church remembers Saint Luke the Evangelist. But why? What good is it to give any thought to this person from history? Pastor Stuckwisch has a Higher Homily that will soon preach this in even more detail, but today we have some thoughts to ponder.
We don’t know a great deal about him, but through the Apostle Paul we gather some information about this human author of the third Gospel. He teamed up with Paul for missions within the modern borders of Turkey and Greece. He also remained with Paul during his final days in Rome, even when others had gone their various ways: “Luke alone is with me.” (2 Tim. 4:11)
In Colossians 4, Saint Paul refers to him as “Luke the beloved physician.” Yet this beloved doctor had a far more lasting impact than touching lives through medicine. The Lord used Luke to proclaim His Gospel. Luke tells us in his first chapter that he gathered information to record the story of our Lord’s life and work.
Luke, led by the Holy Spirit, crafted a literary masterpiece. His skill with vocabulary and grammar, explaining Jewish customs to Gentile hearers, and general eloquence have served the Church in every age well, preaching Christ incarnate, crucified, and risen for you!
Having completed the Gospel according to Luke, the Beloved Physician continued the story with its continuation. We know it as the Acts of the Apostles. He knew it as a second volume of the Gospel, the life and ministry of our Ascended Lord!
What good is it to give any thought to this person in history? No good if we are simply attempting to consider Luke’s personal accomplishments. In the end, it has no effect on salvation whether he painted the first icon of the Christ Child with the Virgin Mary, or whether he actually “interviewed” the Blessed Virgin to provide information for his book. It doesn’t matter how great of a doctor he was or what his bedside manner was like. The people healed or medicines used are not significant to people of all times and places. But there is a significant thought!
The true reason about today is not to dwell on the “Beloved Physician,” but to receive healing from the Great Physician! Our Lord Jesus is the Author and Giver of Life, who also brings true and lasting healing through His Gospel and Sacraments. He anoints our wounds with the “oil” of His Baptism and pours out the “wine” of His Blood, soothing, nurturing, and restoring our health of body and soul.
The Great Physician used the Beloved Physician to present His Gospel to Gentile converts. Jesus gathered (and continues to gather) even more people to be strengthened and made whole through the forgiving Gospel message preached by Luke. Christ uses the voice of this dynamic doctor to proclaim release from sin, death, and the devil in every time and place. Our Lord Jesus continues to use Luke’s “orderly account” so “that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.” (Luke 1:3-4 ESV)
Yes, today we give thanks to God for the appointments He gives us with Dr. Luke. Our Great Physician still uses him to give you certainty concerning the things you have been taught!
Rev. Rich Heinz is Pastor of St. John's Lutheran Church in Lanesville, IN. Pastor Heinz also serves as editor of the Higher Things Website.