Monday, December 15, 2008

Luke 2 and Luke 15

As I was listening to a Christmas Concert at Martin Luther High School this past weekend, it struck me that there is an interesting similarity between Luke 2 and Luke 15 that I had never considered before. In Luke 2 the shepherds leave their flocks in the open field to go and find the Christ child, for they leave "with haste." In the parable in Luke 15, Jesus says, "What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?"

Of course, at first glance these passages are the reverse of each other, since in Luke 15 Jesus is the One doing the seeking, whereas in Luke 2 Jesus is the One being sought out. However, in both instances, it is shepherds doing the seeking--something which I think has clear implications for the pastoral office. Also, in both cases the importance of the situation requires a certain "recklessness" in leaving the flock.

And then there's this: In both cases it is a sheep, a lamb, that is being sought out. The Lamb of God, Jesus, was even lost in a certain sense, that is, away from home, without a place to stay or to lay his head other than a cattle trough. And did He not come to take the place of us lost sinners? This is precisely how He seeks us out and saves us, by taking up our flesh and bearing in His body our lostness, our guilt, our death. There He is, wrapped like a mummy in the manger, a sign of how He would be lost to death that we might be found and raised up with Him in His resurrection. (Dare we go even further into Luke 15 and see Christ with the lost? "Your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.")

It is this Gospel of Jesus that shepherds "make widely known" still today, so that lost and straying sinners might be restored to the flock. No wonder that in both accounts the angels rejoice and men glorify and praise God for all the things that they have heard and seen.


Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

I like the connection you draw, Fr. Koch, between the Infancy narrative and the discourse of Lk 15. It is a testament to genuine Christian art that it will give us such "aha" moments.

Speaking of that further part of Luke, following the example of my late pastor's preaching, I wrote a paper in seminary arguing for the Christic view of this reckless and extravagant son. The instructor, a great preacher but more importantly a kind grader, did not agree with the conclusion but confessed that he liked the argument.

I find it very Lukan, no matter which of his volumes we look at, to not only promote Christ and His work among and for us, but also to show in so many ways the relationship between Christ's work among us in His flesh and His work among us in the members of His Body, the Church.

In summing up the many and intricate ways in which Luke sets before the hearer types in his Gospel which correspond to antitypes in his Acts, Fr. Wiest in his dissertation writes, "That cause, I hold, is Luke's desire to exhibit the Protomartyr as 'another Christ.' Stephen constitutes a specific and stunning example that Christ recapitulates his salvific career through the members of his church."

Rev. Paul Beisel said...

I tried the same approach in my Luke class with Just, and he didn't like the idea either. The son goes from the Father, is humiliated, taking the form of a servant (PHil. 2), becoming the curse for us, the worst sinner in the world, and then returns to his father, repenting for the the sins of the whole world.

But you are right on Stephen--it is clear that his death is very christological.