Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Life of Luke the Physician

St Luke (Pordenone, (1535-37) Budapest)
The writer of the powerful Gospel of Luke, Luke the Physician, is an example of an obscure man of the Bible who lived a life of integrity and finished well. Less is known of Luke than any other New Testament writer, but we still have enough information to make a life sketch of a man faithful to Jesus.
Luke, the writer of the Gospel which bears his name, was a physician and a Gentile believer in Jesus (Col 4:14). A native of Syrian Antioch, Luke was among the second generation of Christians in the early New Testament church. He apparently came to faith in Christ in
the church at Antioch of Syria, that fellowship known for her white hot passion for the Great Commission which sent out Paul and Barnabas, later Paul and Silas and others as missionaries.
It is no wonder that a Greek intellectual like Luke and a Jewish intellectual like Paul would become friends. Luke would travel with Paul as part of his church planting mission team and would eventually write the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles. Luke was a loyal friend to Paul even to Paul’s martyrdom.
Today let’s look at the life of Dr. Luke and draw some life principles from Luke the Man.

Key Truth: Luke’s life teaches us that we are called to let God use our lives for His Glory by being loyal to the work of the Lord and by cultivating a passion for missions.
Key Application: Today I want to show you what God’s Word says about letting God use your life for His Glory.
Pray and Read(Luke 1:1-3; Acts 1:1-2; Colossians 4:14; Philemon 1:24; 2 Timothy 4:11).
Sermon Points:
1.   Let God use your life for His Glory.
2.   Be loyal to the work of the Lord.
3.   Cultivate a passion for missions.
Exposition:   Note well,
a.   Luke let God use his life for His glory. Paul alone names Luke (Colossians 4:14; 2 Timothy 4:11; Philemon 1:24). Luke does not mention his own name in the Gospel or in the Acts. As a Greek-Syrian physician, Luke was possibly a former slave to a Roman family, a common reality for people in the medical profession of that day.  The name Luke, meaning "Light-bearer,” is a slave name.[1] Paul speaks of him as the “beloved physician” (Col 4:14). The early church historian Eusebius says Luke was a native of Syrian Antioch. Jerome calls him Lucas medicus Antiochensis.[2] Luke was a probably the brother of Titus (2 Cor. 8:16; 12:18) according to the early church father John Chrysostom. Luke himself says he was not an eyewitness to the ministry of Jesus but was part of that second generation of believers in the early church (Luke 1:1-3).[3] The early church historian Eusebius wrote, “But Luke, who was born at Antioch, and by profession a physician, being for the most part connected with Paul, and familiarly acquainted with the rest of the apostles, has left us in two inspired books, the institutes of that spiritual healing art which he obtained from them.  One of these is his gospel, in which he testifies that he has recorded, Aas those who were from the beginning eye-witnesses, and ministers of the word,@ delivered to him, who also, he says, he has in all things followed.  The other is his Act of the Apostles, which he composed, not from what he had heard from others, but from what he had seen himself.  It is also said, that Paul usually referred to his gospel, whenever, in his epistles he spoke of some particular gospel of his own, saying, Aaccording to my gospel.@ [4]
b.   APPLICATION: No matter your background or origin, God is sovereign over your life and can take your life and use you for His glory and service, bringing honor to your life and reward in the next.
c.   Luke was a Gentile (Col 4:11, 14), a man of great learning and knowledge, and exact observer and a faithful recorder who checked his facts. His medical training undoubtedly taught him to be exact. He is a first rank historian, reliable, scholarly, skilful, and sympathetic (Luke 1:1-3; Acts 1:1-3). Archaeologist Sir William Ramsay writes that "Luke is an historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy... [he] should be placed along with the very greatest of historians." It should be noted, however, that Ramsay makes no claims about the events dscribed by Luke. [5] Professor of classics at Auckland University, E.M. Blaiklock, says, "For accuracy of detail, and for evocation of atmosphere, Luke stands, in fact, with Thucydides. The Acts of the Apostles is not shoddy product of pious imagining, but a trustworthy was the spadework of archaeology which first revealed the truth."[6]
d.   Luke’s gospel is the most literary of the four, and his literacy level is at a college reading level. Even more, he writes the best literary Greek of the entire New Testament, even better than Paul. With his magnificent Greek mind, he had a sense of form and style. As a poet he is an unsurpassed painter of words. In his Gospel, Luke uses more medical terms than Hippocrates, the father of medicine. Above all, Luke wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and it was the Gospel which Paul preached.[7]
e.   APPLICATION: God uses people of all kinds and talents. How are you willing to be used?
a.   Once they met, Luke became fast friends with a certain Jewish intellectual, the Apostle Paul, the man who would become his mentor (Col 4:14; Philem 24.) Luke appears for the first time at Troas outside Philippi where he meets Paul (the we sections of Acts 16:10-24; 20:5-21:18; 27:1-28:16). Perhaps Luke was living in Philippi at this time. Luke, whether a man of some wealth or great faith in God’s provision, he traveled with Paul as his friend and companion in ministry (Acts 1:1; Col 4:14; 2 Tim 4:11; Philem 24). It is possible, however, that being native to Antioch, Syria, that Luke is the Lucian of Cyrene[8] (Acts 13:1) and was part of Paul’s mission work from the beginning (Acts 13:1-3). If so, he may have ministered to Paul in his sickness in Galatia (Gal 4:13-14) before being with him at Troas and Philippi (Acts 16:10-12; 2 Cor 8:18; 12:18), and remained there (Acts 16:40) seven or eight years until Paul arrived there on his way to Jerusalem (Acts 20:3-5).[9] From that point, Luke traveled with Paul to Jerusalem, during Paul’s two years in jail at Caesarea, on the shipwreck headed to Rome, and with Paul under house arrest in Rome (Acts 20:3-28, 31; Col 4:14; Philem 24). During the imprisonments, it is possible that Luke wrote Luke and Acts. Luke’s devotion to his mentor Paul is incredible. Luke was a loyal friend, staying with Paul to the bitter end in Rome when Paul was martyred in AD 67 (Acts 28:2, 12-16; 2 Tim 4:11).
b.   A 2nd century tradition says of Luke, “Having served the Lord continuously, unmarried and without children, filled with the Holy Spirit he died at the age of 84 years”[10] sometime after A.D. 75. Orthodox tradition says he died in Boeotia region of central Greece, was buried in Thebes, and his body later moved to Constantinople in AD 357.[11]
c.   APPLICATION: Loyalty and being a team player is not always the easy route to take, but in the Lord’s church, you must find
a.   Luke brings out Christ=s compassion to become a man to save man.  Good Samaritan (Luke 10:33), the publican (Luke 18:13), the prodigal (Luke 15:11-24), of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:2), the thief on the cross (Luke 23:43).  Christ sent the Seventy not just to Jews (as He did in Matthew), but Ato every city and place@ (Luke 10:11).  This is important: Luke is writing to a Hellenistic Greek audience.  All of Jesus= ministry east of the Jordan was to Gentiles.  See how Luke shows Jesus= attitude toward the rich as opposed to the poor: (Luke 16:19-31). In Luke, Samaritans (Luke 9:51-54; 10:30-37; 17:16), Syrians (Luke 4:25-27); and Romans (Luke 7:2-10) experienced the grace of God.  Luke traces Jesus= genealogy not to Abraham like Matthew did who wrote to the Jews, but to Adam, to show the Greeks that Jesus is for all humans, Jews and Gentiles.  Luke shows Jesus reading Isaiah 61:1-2, the Gospel to the Outcast (Luke 4:17-21). In the end, Luke shows the Great Commission for all peoples (Luke 24:47).
b.   Luke’s mission was to proclaim Christ’s humanity. Matthew’s Gospel focuses on Jesus as the King; Mark as Jesus Christ the Servant; John on Jesus the Son of God, but Luke on Jesus the Son of Man. Luke traces Jesus’ lineage back to Adam and demonstrates Jesus’ sympathy for others and his ability to relate to all kinds of people (Luke 15:1) as Jesus the Man who came to save (Luke 19:10). Jesus is the Healer of broken hearts and the Sharer in our sufferings in Luke. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus is the second man, but the last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45, 47).  Here the Roman centurion, a Gentile, says, ASurely this was a righteous man@ (Luke 23:47).  As Jesus ascends at Bethany, He is now a Christ not just for Jews, but for all the nations (Gentiles, Luke 24:47).  In a teaser lead-in to the next volume, Acts, Jesus tells them to wait for Apower from on high@ (Luke 24:48). Luke begins with God becoming man and ends with the God-Man ascending to heaven. Luke presents Christ as the perfect Representative of universal man.

[1] So says Faucett, Faucett’s Bible Dictionary, “Luke.”
[2] He demonstrates an interest in, and knowledge of Antioch (compare Acts 11:19-27; 13:1; 14:26; 15:22, 23;15:30, 35; 18:22). The church at Antioch played a great part in Paul’s early work.
[3] Epiphanius (Panarion 2.51.11) and J. Wenham claim Luke was part of the Seventy (Luke 11). The story that Luke was one of the Greeks who came to Philip for an introduction to Jesus (John_12:20 f), or the companion of Cleopas in the walk to Emmaus (Luke_24:13), or Paul’s kinsman (all J. Wenham) is pure conjecture. It is possible in my mind that Luke is the Lucius of Cyrene (Acts 13:1). The clear implication of Luke 1:2 is that Luke himself was not an eyewitness of the ministry of Jesus.
[4] Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History (III, 4).
[5] Ramsay, The Bearing Of Recent Discovery On The Trustworthiness Of The New Testament (1915), 222.
[6] E.M. Blaiklock, The Archaeology of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1970),  96.
[7] It has been my conjecture that Luke wrote Paul’s Gospel down in the epistle of Hebrews. They high literary style and vocabulary reflects someone of Luke’s abilities. The content and form reflects Paul’s heritage and his passion to see the Jews come to Christ (Rom 10:1). From earliest times, Hebrews was part of the Pauline corpus. Perhaps Luke wrote Hebrews during Paul’s two years of incarceration at either Caesarea or Rome.
[8] Smith’s Bible Dictionary “Luke” says Lucius and Lucanus/Lucas are two different names.
[9] Peter Wagner thinks Luke might have met Lydia there and married her.
[10] Anti-Marcionite Prologue to the Gospel of Luke, 2nd century A.D.
[11] Nikiphoros-Kallistos Xanthopoulos (Eccles. History XIVth c. AD., Migne P.G. 145, 876).