I haven’t heard from Biker Jim in awhile, which means he is probably doing OK. We both grew up in Jersey, about 12 miles apart, and the Jersey Factor has carried over into our walk with the Lord. Jim is a good friend, and we don’t have to talk often, we have a trust and friendship that goes beyond Facebook postings or constant emails. But when he does call, it is because he is having a hard time, and has been very sick over the years. Some of his maladies I cannot spell or even pronounce, but let’s say for the last 5-6 years I can remember he has been on a list for a replacement liver. That kind of sick. So many of our visits were in the hospital, me visiting for a change. And we have shared many things that only a Jersey person would understand, let me just leave it at that. But keep him in prayer, from what I hear he is still waiting, he moved to Tennessee because the wait is shorter, but he keeps getting better, his scores, dropping down on the list, then getting worse and moving up in the standings. So I see him from bad to worse, his physical condition may change, but his friendship and love of Jesus don’t. He may not know it, or even admit it, but he is an encouragement to me, which goes way beyond our common Jersey Factor.
Jim spent one Christmas Day with us, and translated the Italian parts for us on The Godfather. He has helped out and ministered with me with his motorcycle and Harvest events, this big man lifting little kids onto his Harley. But the one event if you can call it that, my favorite, is one evening in the hospital, waiting for his liver doctor to arrive. We joked, “what do you call a person who graduates last in their medical class?” Answer-a doctor, and that night his new doctor made his first call, entering when we were laughing. He was from Madison, Wisconsin, which he explained is one of the major liver transplant areas in the US of A. But we were laughing when he walked in unannounced, and when we stopped, he wondered why. So we told him, and he got a laugh out of it too, and then I asked him, “where were you in your graduating class?” And he got serious, at east for a moment. “We had no class rankings, it was pass or fail.” And so I asked “and....your answer is...” and he started laughing again, “don’t worry, I passed,” and we all hit it off. A lot can be said for bedside manner....
When I mentioned the other night at Bible study about the second book of Luke, Cookie Monster hung around after and wanted to know which book I referred to. I explained that Acts was written by Luke, and he is also mentioned a few times in Paul’s writings. And we find Luke to be an interesting man, with a bedside manner reflected in his writings. It was not uncommon for a doctor to be a slave in those times, with little or no training, yet we find Luke very well informed and skilled. Not a slave. And a unique man among the Jews, he was a Gentile, who they hated. We find in his writings details that only a trained scientific man would know, and those details give us insight not only to Jesus and the apostles, but to the man who witnessed them and wrote about them. His is the only gospel that tells of the prodigal son, and the good Samaritan, found only among the 20 or so parables he writes about. We can tell from Paul’s writings that he may have accompanied Paul as a doctor, maybe even attending to Paul’s physical thorn in the flesh, among Paul’s other ailments. See even Paul went to the doctor. And spent time in prison with him, God placing the right man in the right place when needed. His is the only gospel telling of Jesus circumcision on the eighth day, medical background showing again, and it is believed he believed early on in the God of Jacob and Abraham, just never got circumcised into the Jewish religion. His medical background of being a non-Jew, a professional, and a doctor gave him insight, and credentials that enhanced his writings, and led by the spirit, wrote two books of the Bible. Which we see demonstrated in his first book, Luke, that he had perfect understanding of all things from the first, although he wasn’t present like John Mark or John. Inspired by the holy spirit, he went on in Acts, after being told not to preach the gospel any further or risk death, shows how he is also a creationist, believing that “in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth,” that later the spirit gave shape and life too. Which may have been translated as he got all things from above, again referring to the Holy Spirit. And when imprisoned prayed “thou art God who made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all that is in them,” and later “that with all boldness they may speak the word.” I wonder if when he was growing up that his parents bragged “one day my son will be a doctor,” never knowing that he would become a doctor, scientist, historian, brilliant and inspired writer, Christian apologist, and Biblical creationist. I wonder when he read about how he can do all things in Christ that strengthen him he already knew that?
And so we call the person who graduates last in their medical class doctor, and we never know what to expect when we ask about their credentials. We never knew where or when Luke graduated, or where he was in class rankings, but in God’s eyes he was a major player, but humble in knowing it was all about Jesus. Can we say the same thing, or has our talent given by God become a source of bragging? Titles may be important, but the man behind them, and the spirit that drives us is more important. Years ago a man bragged to me “I’m a doctor,” and my answer was “really, I have one of those,” but do we all have Jesus? Luke the physician knew all about medicine for his time, but when confronted with the great physician, was humbled and inspired, knowing he could maybe heal, but only Jesus could save. And even the best doctor cannot resurrect the dead. Something to think about the next time you read Acts or the book that bears his name. The only gentile to write a book of the Bible, maybe we don’t have this God thing figured out.
Sometimes the best medical advice is simple, as Gerald my doctor friend once showed me, when I told him my arm hurt in a certain position, he told me “then don’t do that.” For good medical advice is like the gospel, simple so I can get it, and free so I can afford it. If only Obamacare were so simple....and with Jesus you can keep your own doctor!
love with compassion,