Sometimes church helps us in ways separate from just hearing the message. Admittedly there are times when my mind wanders during the service, bouncing here and there, following whatever thoughts may come. During this year’s Easter service, one of those thoughts arose and left me pondering long after we left for the customary post-church feast and nap. My pastor was giving a message from Acts, and mentioned that its source was Luke, the Beloved Physician. For whatever reason, my mind fixated on that phrase. Luke, the Beloved Physician. The more and more I thought about it, that’s remarkable for numerous reasons.
Luke is mentioned by name in the Bible a total of three times: Colossians 4:14, 2 Timothy 4:11, and Philemon 1:24 (mentioned as Lucas). In every instance, he is mentioned as accompanying Paul, and not much else is said about him, with the exception that in Colossians 4, Paul makes a point of referring to him as “the beloved physician”. What a distinction. Luke is responsible for authoring the Gospel of Luke in addition to Acts, and God sees fit to include in his Word, through Paul, that Luke is the “beloved physician”. What a title that is, especially for someone mentioned so little. A point can be made from this.
Luke is referred to in the Bible as the Beloved Physician, despite being mentioned only three times. That in itself is a curiosity. More so, it is curious that the man responsible for authoring two books in the New Testament is mentioned by name only thrice. Both of these facts can be used illustrate truths regarding God and Christ.
First, the fact that Luke is referred to in God’s Word as the Beloved Physician would testify to the fact that Luke was a man of character, a physician by trade, and a man whom God esteemed highly. No part of scripture is by accident, and the fact that God made a point to deem Luke as the Beloved Physician through the Apostle Paul was both intentional and necessary to illustrate the character of Luke. After all, he authored a substantial part of the New Testament, including the early history of the church.
The second and probably more important truth demonstrated by Luke’s presence in scripture is that a man that God saw fit to mention by name, esteem highly, and trust with the authorship of a gospel and the early history of the church is only mentioned thrice in the entirety of the New Testament. Surely the life of Luke the Beloved Physician warrants its own elaboration, its own chronicle, its own story. However, the purpose of scripture and the intent of God is not to esteem good men, and Luke was likely a phenomenal man to have been spoken of so highly by God. Rather, the entirety of scripture serves to point to Christ. From Genesis to Revelation, the scripture points to Christ and the character of Christ in one way or another through different types, prophecies, and historical accounts. The fact that a man so highly esteemed by God warrants mention only three times testifies to this important truth.
The beauty of the human condition is that we have the ability to follow whatever path we may choose. We are the masters of our fate, so to speak. We choose how we carry ourselves, how we treat people, how we allow people to treat us, what we do, and what we don’t do. Inevitably there will be things that are out of our control, but nevertheless, we can steer through life as we see fit as each opportunity and decision comes and goes. As life progresses, our decisions begin to bear fruits and solidify, forming our reputation, our occupation, our personality, our friends, our enemies. One way or another, we will be what we will be. In the case of Luke, the decisions he made and the path he took led to being mentioned in the Word of God as “the beloved physician”, a man of undoubted character, compassion, esteem, and admiration. Yet, he is mentioned only thrice. Otherwise, the bulk of Luke’s contribution to the New Testament is to point towards and establish the character and power of Christ. He documents the life of Christ in the Gospel of Luke and the power of Christ in the early church in the Book of Acts.
An example can be made of Luke. Every person’s life will take a different path. Some people may find wealth, some may find glory, some power, and some may find none of these things. However, our duty is always to point towards Christ, regardless of position or circumstance. Luke testifies of this. Not only was he likely a man of influence, being a physician and a beloved one at that, but was a man of sound character. And despite this, his presence in scripture is dedicated to Christ, as it should be. A man of nothing and a man of everything share the equal responsibility of directing people toward Christ. All that we will ever accomplish in this world is nothing without Christ. All that I am, and all that I ever will be, I owe to Him.