ST LUKE, EVANGELIST AD 2020
TRINITY EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH
REV. KURT E. REINHARDT
Luke 10:1-9 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, The kingdom of God has come near to you.’
“Somebody call a doctor!” is a cry that goes out many a time in our sin sick world. Without a doubt, it is being heard the world over in many a place in the middle of this pandemic, as Covid 19 hits some worse than others, causing them to lose their very breath and needing a doctor’s help immediately (or “stat” as they say in the medical world) or they will die.
“Somebody call a doctor!” Yes, beloved, with all that we got going on it’s a good time to think about the “beloved physician” as St. Paul called him. Today, October 18th, is the feast of St. Luke’s, the day that the Church has set aside to remember and give thanks to God for the writer of the 3rd of the four Gospels and the book of Acts - the author of a full quarter of the New Testament.
Luke was not one of the twelve apostles. He was a companion and fellow worker of St. Paul’s on many of his missionary journey’s in the early Church. Some throughout the life of the Church have thought, that he might have been one of the seventy two, that Jesus sends out to heal and preach in our Gospel reading for today. But that’s not likely since it’s clear from the New Testament that Luke was a Syrian gentile from the city of Antioch.
Luke was probably not one of the seventy two, but there can be no question that he was a part of their mission. As that mission was just the beginning of the Lord’s great sending of His Church out into the world, to proclaim the great good news of what He has done to save it. In some ways a Luke who never actually heard or saw Jesus, but tells us so much of Christ and His Church’s life, underlines the truth, that God can and does use even people like you and me to spread His good news.
Just because Luke didn’t see or hear Jesus in person though, doesn’t make his testimony any less sure, beloved. On the contrary, Luke, clearly by his writing was a well educated man (as a doctor even in those times needed to be), who makes it clear that his gospel and history of the early church was based on his careful research and recording of those who heard and saw all that he reports about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
With Luke God includes an educated non-jewish man with a tax collector, a fisherman and a simple disciple as the recorders of His salvation of the world in Christ. With Luke, we now have testimony from men from all walks of life, giving witness of all that came to pass, when God sent His only begotten Son into the world. In this way the Lord shows that ours is not a faith of only the lowly and simple, but also the lofty and wise and vice versa - a faith for and witnessed by all kinds of men.
“Somebody call a doctor!” Yes, beloved these are good days to give thanks to God for the beloved physician, and how the Lord brings His kingdom near to us through him. While God used Luke as a physician to only heal people’s bodies, when He calls him to be an evangelist, He turns him into a healer of both body and soul. The Lord makes this clear today, when he sends the seventy two out to preach before Him. They are sent to heal the sick and proclaim the nearness of the Kingdom of God.
What we need to know, especially in these days, beloved, is that the body only gets sick because the soul is sick. And so heal the soul and you heal the body. It’s sin in the soul that causes the body to be sin sick. My body has no sin of its own, no it’s my soul that involves my body in its sin and so sickens it unto death. Death only comes to the body, because there is death in the soul. And so raise the soul from death and you raise the body also.
Without question, beloved, in the midst of this pandemic, we need all the doctors and nurses working overtime for us, as we need researchers working on vaccines and treatments for Covid 19. But how much more so do we need doctors of the soul and the Medicine of Immortality, that the Lord sends them into our lives to bring. Knowing how sin and death work, we can better understand why Luther, even in the midst of the black plague (and yes, He knew that you could get it from other people), would encourage people to go to Church and hear the Word of God and commune regularly.
No, Covid 19 is not nothing, even if some experience it as little more than a head cold. For many it is and has been life threatening and fatal. It is, beloved, because it is a big deal, that we need precisely what St. Luke has to give us through those that the Lord has sent to deliver it to us. There is sin in all of our souls, which means our bodies are in danger of sickness and death. What we all need is forgiveness and eternal life, which we can’t get at the doctor’s office, hospital or at the pharmacy.
Those things are only available for us here, where the Lord through His servants gives them out to us. Here God’s kingdom comes to us, as Christ renews us in our life in Him by forgiving all our sins and giving us His body and blood. As Christ proclaims His Word to you and gives you His body and blood through me, the Lord heals your souls for eternity and prepares your bodies for their resurrection unto eternal life.
“Somebody call a doctor!” Yes, beloved, our need is great, urgent, a matter of life and death. In these trying days our faithless fears and worries and cares leave us in no doubt about that. Yes, we are in the midst of a pandemic and things don’t look like they’re going to get better any time soon, but the Lord is still the Lord, and He is our dear heavenly Father who has plans for us, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give us a future and a hope.
“Somebody call a doctor!” Yes, beloved, our need is great, despite the work of the Holy Spirit in us to create and sustain faith, sin’s fears, worries and doubts remain and plague us, sometimes even over-ruling our faith. Without question in these trying times we need the Lord’s soul and body healing forgiveness as much as ever.
“Somebody call a doctor!” Indeed! And the good news answer, that comes to that cry from the altar today, beloved, is, “Peace be with you, I am here. I have carried all your sins including your faithless fears, worries and cares to the cross. I have suffered and died for them so that they can be forgiven. Receive that healing forgiveness today as I freely and lovingly pour it out upon you, that you might have life now and forever. Amen.