In the spirit of spring cleaning, let’s discuss a pair of not entirely inaccurate, but eminently debatable declarations made recently in this space.
First, in the April 3 column “Truth, Holy Week and the big picture,” I wrote Luke was “the only Gospel writer who was neither in Jerusalem for the crucifixion nor an acquaintance of Jesus.” A small point, really, but I should remember what I write in my own column, like specifically on March 24, 2009, “Luke: Jesus came for all.”
It is true the Bible does not name or position Luke as being with Jesus as unambiguously as it describes the presence with Jesus of the other three Gospel writers: disciples Matthew and John, and Mark who ran naked from the garden of Gethsemane when Jesus was arrested.
But – and I wrote this three years ago – Christian tradition says Luke was one of “the 72” harvest workers Jesus sent out like “lambs among wolves” to spread his teaching (Luke 10:1-23). Also – and again Luke wasn’t named – it was very likely Luke, according to early scholars, was walking with Cleopas to the village of Emmaus (Luke 24:13ff) when Jesus appeared to them after the resurrection.
Even though the Bible doesn’t say either way, it stands to reason Luke met and knew Jesus, so, oops. The “big picture” is Luke knew the truth resides in Jesus.
Second, from April 10, “The Wine, the Cup and Communion” described how the four Biblical accounts of the Last Supper and Communion (Matthew, Mark, Luke and Acts)never actually mention “wine.” They don’t, but the point wasn’t wine; it was that Jesus described the contents of the cup as the “blood of the new covenant.”
Alertly, my good church buddy Don and savvy Current reader Michal were among those who sent e-mails citing Matthew 26:29, where Jesus, offering the cup, refers to drinking “this fruit of the vine” again in his “Father’s kingdom.”
They wondered, “What could be in the cup except wine?” Fair question, and it stands to reason the cup contained wine. Yet there are enough biblical metaphors surrounding “fruit” (e.g. Galatians 5:22-23, Matthew 7:16), “vine” (e.g. John 15) and “kingdom” for an interesting conversation as to what Jesus meant beyond just wine.
But still, oops. More precise writing would have maintained focus on the central point, which is the “blood of the new covenant” is our shared life of faith in Christ.
I should have tinkered with those columns a little longer.