Scripture: Luke 19:1-10; 12:13-21
This Sunday as we continue with the second part of our sermon series, Church and State, we’re going to turn our attention away from the Jews following Jesus and focus on the Gentiles (non-Jews) following Jesus. While the Jewish Christians were struggling to survive, the Gentile Christians were growing in numbers and thriving. Indeed, by the mid 80’s, it would seem that Jesus’ movement has started to infiltrate the upper echelon of Roman society. Proof of this is found in the gospel of Luke.
In the opening lines of Luke’s gospel, Luke addresses the gospel to the “most excellent Theophilus.” The question you should be asking yourself immediately is, “Who is Theophilus?” There is debate among scholars as to whether this is a person or a title. The word 'Theophilus' in Greek means friend of God. So it could be that the Luke’s gospel is being written to anyone who considers themselves a friend of God. However, just as many people believe that Theophilus was a pseudonym given to a real person.
For those in the camp that Theophilus was a real person, there are a lot of different theories as to who he could have been. Based on the clues we find in the gospel, I tend to think that Theophilus was a very wealthy Roman citizen who had been attending a Christian church. Clearly, we don’t know which one, but a good guess would be it was a church that was somehow connected with Paul since Luke talks a lot about Paul in the book of Acts.
Luke is arguably the best written of all the gospels in the New Testament. It’s by far the best Greek, which points to the fact that Theophilus paid good money to get a good writer to create his gospel. And yet, what’s so fascinating about this gospel is the focus on money. It’s clear from the other gospels that Jesus favors the poor over the wealthy, but Luke’s gospel takes Jesus’ derision of the wealthy to a whole new level.
This Sunday we are going to explore why Luke focuses so much on money in his gospel and what that means for us as an affluent church in the Chicago suburbs. I hear it’s supposed to be a lovely weekend. I hope you enjoy the warmer weather and have an opportunity to get outdoors. I look forward to seeing you all at worship!