ALMIGHTY God, who didst inspire thy servant Saint Luke the Physician, to set forth in the Gospel the love and healing power of thy Son; Manifest in thy Church the like power and love, to the healing of our bodies and our souls; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
THE COLLECT OF ST. LUKE EXPLAINED:
Due to his particular calling as a physician, the Lord inspired Luke to accent the whole healing benefits available in Christ. The only healing that will suffice for the soul is offered in the Gospel of Christ that Luke so skillfully presents. Luke advocates the same role of the church of healing the whole body and soul of its adherents in Christ. All power vested in the Church remains that delegated authority of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Luke is known as the Beloved Physician for that was his practice. It is true that Luke is beloved of all Christians, and it is true that Luke was a physician administering the healing arts; but more important than these characteristics stands the claim of Christian professor. All of the other pursuits of Luke’s life was directed toward the propagation of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, and Luke shared his writings in such a manner as to emphasize the compassion and healing power of His Lord. Being a physician by trade, he was able to capture the absolute and miraculous healing power of our Lord. Not only could the Lord heal from every disease and even call back the dead to life, but He could heal the greatest affliction of all mankind in the forgiveness of sin.
Owing to his practiced understanding of medicine, Luke is very precise in his descriptive writings of diseases healed by our Lord, but that precision of terms spills over into all of Luke’s other writings. Luke wrote more in the New Testament than any other (including Peter). He also authored the Book of Acts. Luke recorded that latter historical book of the New Testament with the same attention to detail as he paid to all his writings of the miracles of Christ.
The Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity.
O GOD, forasmuch as without thee we are not able to please thee; Mercifully grant that thy Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
THE COLLECT FOR THE DAY EXPLAINED:
This Gelasian Collect was translated by Archbishop Cranmer to say “grant us thy grace to avoid the temptations of the world, etc” but the learned revisers of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer made the seemingly small change to read: “grant us they grace to withstand the temptations of the world, etc”. Though the change of a single word may seem trivial, it is not, for we shall certainly encounter the temptations of the world. They cannot be avoided and are often allowed by the Lord for our preparation as courageous people of God.
How do we “withstand the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil?” How do we withstand the several diseases of the physical world? First, and most desirable, is that we are inoculated to be immune from those diseases that threaten our physical health. Secondly, there are some diseases for which there is no vaccine and for which we must receive prompt attention. The temptations of the world to our souls are of a similar nature. The Devil seeks to infect us with the disease of sin. If he is successful, a diseased sinner becomes one who carries his contagion into the presence of all with whom he associates. Sin, like wild weeds, spreads across the landscape without cultivation or tillage. It is not the weeds, but the good grass, vegetables and fruits that need careful watering, fertilization, and tillage.
Is it possible to be immune to some of the Devil’s temptations? By all means, it is possible! The best immunity is the avoidance of diseased environments. If we restrain from close familiarity with those who are constantly driven to lust and sinful inclinations, we shall avoid those direct temptations foisted upon those who do so associate with the friends of the world and of the Devil. But there are temptations that lie dormant deep in the heart of man that will emerge from time to time in spite of Godly love and zeal. How are these temptations confronted and defeated? By watchfulness in guarding the soul, and in constant prayerfulness, we may withstand those strong and ungodly temptations that arise in the heart of every Christian: And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? couldest not thou watch one hour? Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak. (Mark 14:37-38)
If we are strong in prayer, and watchful against that old Adversary of our souls, he will elect to bring his greater temptations to bear elsewhere. When Christ is the sole owner of our hearts, no other shall dare to invade those sacred chambers of the Temple of God. We shall be stronger than the Devil and all of his cunning traps if we have the One in our hearts who has handily defeated that old Dragon. When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils. (Luke 11:21-22)
“ . . . with pure hearts and minds to follow thee, the only God; through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Sin is dirty. It changes our countenance of purity into a grimy image of filth. It makes us sick and we lose the energy to perform good service to God and man; and we gain a greater desire to go to the saloon of Satan for more of the “hair from the dog that bit us.” We track our filth everywhere we go. One little ‘white’ lie about a friend (or even a stranger) may circulate among the multitudes until that person’s character and reputation are savaged. One promiscuous encounter can ruin a marriage and the lives of children. An aged parent, dishonored, carries that testimony directly to the face of Christ when he departs this life. Sin has consequences that are often irreparable.
Satan is not omniscient, but he does have a mind and the means of observation. He has learned the weaknesses in our defenses. He has watched intently as we have prepared our lines. He knows where the walls of our souls are weak and unprotected. It is at these points that he concentrates his forces and makes his assaults. If he is able to penetrate our defenses, even at the weak points, he gains command of the battlefield in rendering even our strong defense impotent. He has outmaneuvered our flanks and gained a tactical access to our innermost deployments of battle. When our lines are overrun, we have only the option to call upon our reserves – hidden and unseen to the enemy. If that reserve is God Almighty, He will expeditiously rout the unwelcome enemy from our ranks, strengthen our interior lines, and restore order on our outward defenses.
What one vaccine has the greatest effect in dispelling the sinful nature? With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. (Psalms 119:10-11) We defeat the wiles of the Devil by seeking the Lord with our WHOLE HEART, then there remains no faculties free to contemplate sin. We hide God’s Whole Counsel in our hearts which is a defense and a fortress against sin. A casual piety will not do – it is the whole being that must belong to God – the Heart, the Mind, the Soul! Is your faith a casual faith, or does God own your soul – lock, stock, and barrel, Friend? If Christ is the SOVEREIGN of your heart, no enemy can take possession of it.
St. Luke x. 1.
THE Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place,whither he himself would come. Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest. Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way. And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again. And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire.
In today’s text for the observance of St. Luke the Evangelist, we see the first part of a bipartite nature of the Gospel. Christ sends his disciples out in two’s: “Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way. And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house.” Is the Christian required to go among wolves in such a way throughout his calling? Why did the Lord send these men out in such manner? The Lord Himself answers that question: “The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.” The Harvest is already ripened and ready to take. The ground has been prepared and the wheat grains are heavy. So Christ sends forth these to prepare for His reception on His coming to them: “THE Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place,whither he himself would come.”
“And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again. And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire.” This is not the manner of performing our mission work today in hostile lands. God desires that we have courage to go forth wherever He sends, and in such manner as He sends us, but we are not facing the same Providential circumstances as that to which our Lord makes reference in this lesson text. It would be foolish for the Christian missionary to go among ISIS – known demonic servants of the devil, to attempt conversions. He does not desire we waste our lives foolishly. But in the case presented here, the fields were ripe for Harvest and need laborers there.
We must remember that it was the same Luke who scribed the caution our Lord gave His on the night of His betrayal: “31 ¶ And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: 32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. 33 And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. 34 And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me. 35 And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing. 36 Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. 37 For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end. 38 And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.”
I hope you will have noted the contrasts in these two circumstances: the first was to lay the foundation for the reception of the Gospel; the second was to preserve His disciples from danger of death. He would be taken for crucifixion this very night. He did not desire his disciples as well to suffer death. The swords were not for protection of Christ for He must be offered up. They were for the protection of the disciples.
That night, the brash Peter drew a sword and severed the ear of one of the soldiers. Peter was trying to protect Christ from danger, but that was nit the Lord’s intention. Observe the great courage of Peter in the near Presence of the Lord; but also observe his cowardice in the face of the accusations made that he was a follower of Christ when he was separated from the Lord. “50 And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear. 51 And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him.”
Jesus intended that the offense against Himself was to be allowed, but the disciples were to only protect THEMSELVES. “Suffer ye THUS FAR!”
But, being separated from His Lord, see how Peter’s courage failed him: “54 ¶ Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest’s house. And Peter followed afar off. 55 And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them. 56 But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked upon him, and said, This man was also with him. 57 And he denied him, saying, Woman, I know him not. 58 And after a little while another saw him, and said, Thou art also of them. And Peter said, Man, I am not. 59 And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this fellow also was with him: for he is a Galilæan. 60 And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew. 61 And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. 62 And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.”
We are in the time of the Church Militant. We are not to do as the Muslims do, that is, advance the faith of Christ at the point of the sword, but our Lord has given us the right and responsibility to defend ourselves against a malicious enemy. A dead Christian can no longer be of benefit to the lost. We owe an obligation to defend our families, our church and our nation.
Jesus commanded his disciples at the last minute before His being taken in the Garden to buy a sword if they did not have a sword. He declared that command, not to defend Himself, but His disciples on that night of danger. We should feel the responsibility and obligation as well. Any man who would allow his child, wife, home, or nation to be abused by an evil and wicked invader is neither man nor Christian.