Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Last Miracle

My last post discussed the healing of the blind man, which Arthur A. Just, Jr., identified by him as the last miracle performed by the Lucan Jesus. However, I write today to state my disagreement with this statement and ask why is it that that miraculous restoration of the ear of the servant of the High Priest cut off by the sword of one the Apostles is assigned to obscurity. This miracle does not fit the theme of The Ongoing Feast.

All the Gospels record the action of Peter in striking the servant of the High Priest and cutting off his right ear with the sword, but only Luke states that the Jesus restored the cut off ear by a miracle. Nothing was needed to stop the hemorrhage, nor a bandage to keep the ear in place, to give the severed ear a chance to heal itself in place. It was an instantaneous cure. I call it His last miracle.

Lucan writings emphasize the power of God and in that limited sense, Luke is in agreement with Paul's assessment of the power of the cross.[i] Luke uses this terminology more often than any other New Testament writer. He does so to demonstrate the truthfulness of the information Theophilus, the High Priest, has heard about God's recent intervention in human history. God's power is evident in the miracles performed by his representatives and is a validation of their role.[ii] The last miracle performed by Jesus was most impressive and about which the High Priest was informed. All of the gospels tell the story of the arrest of Jesus. Only Luke tells about the miracle of the restoration of the ear. Such an outrageous claim could not be made to the High Priest unless it was true. Matthew, Mark and John writing later eliminate all friendly overtures and emphasize hostility to the Jews because Matthew, Mark and John are reacting to their perception of the rejection of Jesus by the Jews.

This miraculous restoration of the ear played the same role as the raising of Lazarus does in the Gospel of John. It was a display of the power of God as a prelude to the resurrection. Paul, like Luke and John, regarded Christ's resurrection as the preeminent display of God's power. But Luke attributes no saving efficacy to the cross. For Luke, by the power of God, Jesus was resurrected from the dead. This divine activity is a consistent Lucan emphasis. Luke stresses God's plan and movement of divine history more than Matthew and Mark. This theme is developed cautiously given the beliefs of the High Priest and the “marginal status of immortality and resurrection” in the belief structure of first century Judaism.

[i]. 1 Cor. 1:18; Rom. 8:11. However, it should be noted that the early Christian kerygma of 1 Cor. 15:4 is based upon the Lucan focus on the third day which is unique to Luke among the Synoptic resurrection portrayals.

[ii]. Acts 14:3; 14:8-11.

Copyrighted 2006


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