Summary: The tremendous commitment of Luke to Paul and the gospel is an example for us to follow.
Have you ever asked yourself the question, “Would I do that?” Especially after seeing some great act of brave heroism (like a daring rescue). Or maybe some ludicrous spectacle of depravity, done for money (as seen for example on TV shows like Fear Factor, or Jackass).
The life of Saint Luke, in relation to his devotion to Saint Paul as a brother and the ministry to which he was called, is an exciting example of true, sincere, unadulterated commitment. When you read what Paul says about him in 2 Timothy 4:11 - after he lists who have deserted him and before he tells who are busy with other tasks, he says, “...only Luke is with me...” This speaks to the tremendous sense of devotion, loyalty and faithfulness of a friend and a brother.
However, to get the true sense of Luke’s commitment to Paul, one has to look at some of the characters mentioned in the text. One has to look at three persons. This does not mean that the others, which are mentioned, are not of importance but these three work together to make the point about the passage very clear.
1. Demas - he showed the antithesis of commitment;
2. Luke - he was the epitome of commitment; and
3. John Mark - he represents what redemption is all about - “No man needs to remain the way he is.”
ILLUS. Two friends were walking in the forest one day when suddenly they stumbled upon a large grizzly bear who decided that they looked like a good snack. The two started running away when all of the sudden one of them stopped. The other said, "What are you stopping for? Don’t you know the grizzly bear is right behind us?" His friend replied, "I am tying my shoe so I can run faster." At this he couldn’t help but laugh, "What you think you’ll outrun the grizzly?" The friend replied, "I don’t have to outrun the grizzly, I only have to outrun you." In our selfish society, how often do we act like this "friend”?
From these three characters, come some important lessons about commitment.
1. TRUE COMMITMENT DEMANDS GIVING UP PERSONAL COMFORTS.
Vs 10 “...Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica.”
The Apostle Paul is writing from his jail cell in Rome. Its winter… he asks Timothy to bring him his coat. He writes to young Timothy to say that there is a problem. Paul is not writing about the problem of his jail sentence. Not at all…instead he says, "I’ve got a problem with Demas...." Paul says, "I’ve got a problem with Demas."
And what is the problem? Demas is gone! This young protégé that Paul has carried all over the land with him, is now gone. He’s "jumped ship", as we say, and gone off to Thessalonica.
There are three mentions of him in Paul’s letters, and the three mentions seen to paint a picture of tragedy.
(i) In Philemon 24 he is listed amongst a group of men whom Paul calls his fellow-labourers.
(ii) In Colossians 4:14 he is mentioned without any comment at all.
(iii) Here he has forsaken Paul because he loved this present world.
So, first, Demas the fellow-labourer, then just Demas, and, finally, Demas the deserter who loved the world. Bit by bit the fellow-labourer has become the deserter; the title of glory has become the name of shame.