“He who hears you hears Me, and he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me.” The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” In that same hour He rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was Thy gracious will.”
Luke 10: 16-21
Saint Luke may have been the most intelligent of the early church leaders. He is claimed as the patron saint of lawyers, doctors, historians, and artists. Saint Luke was a physician by trade. He was an orator. He is one of the Four Evangelists, having authored both the Gospel that bears his name as well as the Book of Acts. Since the Book of Acts is a history of the early church, Saint Luke is hailed as the first church historian. And Saint Luke was also an artist. He painted the first icon, of the Virgin Mary.
Saint Luke has the title “Apostle” and was a member of a group known as “the seventy.” There were two groups of Apostles, the Twelve and the Seventy. Members of both were pivotal in the establishment of the early church.
Saint Luke is most likely the unnamed disciple, along with Cleopas (who is named and is also one of the seventy), to whom the Resurrected Christ appeared on the road to Emmaus on the evening after the Resurrection. It was Luke and Cleopas who testified to the other disciples that they had seen the Risen Lord and “how He was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.” (Luke 24:35)
The Gospel lesson that is read on his feastday references “The seventy” which is why it is read on this feastday. In the Gospel lesson, Jesus is addressing the seventy, telling them that they are His representatives. Therefore whoever hears the disciples hears Christ and whoever rejects the disciples rejects Christ and whoever rejects Christ rejects also God the Father who sent Christ.
The seventy rejoice at the power of Christ, having seen demon-possessed people cured in His name. Christ then tells them three important things:
“I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” (Luke 10:18) This confirms the existence of Christ before the Incarnation.
“Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you.” (Luke 10:19) This is an affirmation not only of God’s power, but that His power is accessible to all who believe in Him, and can work through those who believe. This is also a statement to comfort those who follow after Christ that nothing can hurt us. That doesn’t mean that we won’t ever feel pain or that people won’t hurt us or even kill Christians (as has happened in every century). It means that nothing from any enemy can take away our faith or God’s love from us.
“Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:20) We should have confidence, but not arrogance about our faith. We shouldn’t rejoice in an elitist way about our faith. Or that having faith gives us any kind of an edge in life. Rather, we should rejoice that we are remembered by God in heaven. For any earthly accomplishment is temporary. It is the heavenly reward that is permanent.
O holy Apostle and Evangelist Luke, make intercession to our merciful God, that He grant our souls forgiveness of offenses. (Apolytikion of St. Luke, Trans. by Fr. Seraphim Dedes)
May we be as well-rounded in our faith as St. Luke was in his life!
Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015. The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website!
Fr. Stavros has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0
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