Physician of the Soul

by The Rev. Randy Asburry

Luke 10:1-9

On this day the Church commemorates St. Luke the Evangelist. He wrote the Gospel account that carries his name, and he wrote the sequel that we know as the Book of Acts. In his first book St. Luke did his historical research and interviewed eyewitnesses to tell “all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when He was taken up” (Acts 1:1-2). In his second book St. Luke records how the Holy Spirit began leading the Church into all truth (Jn. 16:13) by making the apostles “witnesses [of Jesus] in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). As St. Luke gives us the life of Jesus and the life of the Church, he shows us that he is God’s gift as a physician of the soul.

We know from the Bible that St. Luke was not a Jew, but a Gentile. He was also a physician, schooled in the medical arts. In the Book of Acts St. Luke shows up as a companion and missionary partner of St. Paul. When others had abandoned St. Paul, St. Luke remained faithful and brought comfort to the apostle.

According to Church Tradition St. Luke was born in the town of Antioch in the country of Syria. This is also the city where the followers of Christ were first called “Christians” (Acts 11:26), and there were probably quite a few Christians there at that time. Church Tradition also says that Doctor Luke heard about Christ and traveled to hear the message of salvation from the lips of the Savior. And while Holy Scripture doesn’t name the 72 preachers whom Jesus sent out, Tradition says that Dr. Luke may have been one of them. And it may very well be that Dr. Luke was also one of the two disciples whom Jesus met on the road to Emmaus and taught after His resurrection. At that point Dr. Luke certainly would have learned that it was “necessary that the Christ should suffer [death and resurrection] and enter into his glory” (Lk. 24:26).

When it came to writing his Gospel account, many in the Church have held that St. Luke learned the details of Christ’s life and saving work from St. Paul and even from the Virgin Mary. And in addition to writing the Gospel and the Book of Acts, St. Luke is said to have preached the Gospel in various countries and suffered martyrdom in the city of Thebes.

So while we do not gather to worship St. Luke, we do thank God for this great physician of the soul. We do honor him for faithfully proclaiming the Great Physician, Jesus Christ Himself. It’s because of St. Luke that we have the beloved account of the Holy Spirit coming to the Virgin Mary to announce the Birth of the Savior. It’s because of St. Luke that we get to hear the Christmas story every year and learn how the Son of God became Man to restore us to God’s image. It’s because of St. Luke that we learn many parables of Jesus and how He, the Lord of Life is the Good Samaritan who rescues us from our death of sin on the side of the road. It’s because of St. Luke that we learn to trust God our Father who welcomes us prodigal sinners back into His family and puts on us the robe of Christ’s righteousness. It’s because of St. Luke that we can rejoice in Jesus as our atoning sacrifice, saying “Today you will be with Me in Paradise.” And it’s because of St. Luke that our hearts can burn within us as we know and receive the risen Lord “in the breaking of the bread.” These things that Jesus began to do and to teach are the healing medicine for our souls, and St. Luke, the doctor of the Gospel, delivers the soothing balm.

It’s also because of St. Luke that we can rejoice in the Church and the Holy Spirit coming to give us Life with God. Just as the Spirit breathed life into the Apostles to proclaim the forgiveness of Christ, even in the face of opposition and persecution, He also breathes life into us to “repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of [our] sins” and to “receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

The Higher Things devotion for today invites us to thank the Lord for St. Luke. Here’s how it reads:

“Thank the Lord for St. Luke! He is one of the men that the Holy Spirit used to publish the Good News of Jesus to the ends of the earth. St. Luke carefully listens to the eyewitnesses of Jesus birth, life, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension. St. Luke is used by the Holy Spirit to write down for us the Good News of Jesus' life and death in our place. He records Jesus' words and work, which the Lord spoke and did for our salvation. St. Luke, in the Gospel that bears his name, has given us a record of the salvation accomplished by Jesus for us.

“Thank the Lord for St. Luke! He didn't just stop at the cross or grave. He didn't end his writing with salvation accomplished. He also recorded salvation delivered! St. Luke also wrote the Acts of the Apostles. In this book, he records the preaching of Jesus by the apostles, the conversions of Jews and Gentiles, and the ministry of St. Paul, who brought the Gospel of Christ to the very heart of the Roman Empire. In the book of Acts, the Holy Spirit, through the writing of St. Luke, teaches us God's grace in saving us through the preaching of the Holy Gospel, through Holy Baptism, and through the Lord's Supper. The Holy Spirit teaches us what the church is and how He has founded it: upon the preaching and teaching of Christ by the apostles.

“Thank the Lord for St. Luke! The Gospel that bears his name and the Book of the Acts of the Apostles are the Lord's gifts to us so that we may hear the Good News of salvation in Jesus and be pointed to where that salvation is given to us in His holy, Christian Church. Thank the Lord for St. Luke! In the Name of Jesus. Amen.”

 

The Rev. Randy Asburry is pastor of Hope Lutheran Church in Saint Louis, Mo.  His RAsburry's Res is a new addition to the blogosphere where he recently posted this sermon.

Created: October 20th, 2007