Luke: the unlikely gospel writer
Luke’s Unique Resume
If we consider that the writer of the gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles was not Jewish but a Gentile and not a fisherman but a physician who never met Jesus in person (Colossians 4:14), we might expect his gospel to have a somewhat different flavor from the others. Our expectations will not be disappointed.
[Note: This blog post is based on last week’s reading: the Gospel of Luke.]
Four Writers; Four Gospels
Each of the gospels tells the story of Jesus Christ, the God-Man who came to save His people from their sins. Notably, all four of the gospels lead us to the cross and the resurrection of Jesus.
We call three of the gospels “the synoptics” (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). This indicates that they focus on the overview of the life and ministry of Jesus.
In contrast, John emphasizes Jesus as God the Son, who is divine and eternal. He makes his case through Jesus’ discourses about Himself and John’s own comments.
But each of the three synoptics have their unique characteristics too. Matthew addresses concerns of Jewish readers and shows how Jesus Christ is the Son of David and the Son of Abraham who fulfills Old Testament prophecy (Matthew 1:1). Unique to Matthew are five of the Lord’s discourses. Mark presents Jesus’ life as one of action and purpose as He effectively carries out His work to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).
Luke’s Unique Gospel
Luke’s chronology is similar to Mark’s but fills in many encounters with needy people and twenty parables not included elsewhere.
In reading Luke, we note the writer’s care to get the historical details correct and to set the life of Jesus in the context of secular history (Luke 1:1-4; 2:1-2; 3:1-2). Luke (not Matthew, Mark and John) treats us to the prophecies and songs of praise surrounding the births of John and Jesus delivered to us through the mouths of Mary, Zechariah, the angels, and Simeon (1:46-55;67-79;2:13-14;29-32). We see Jesus healing the sick, calling His disciples, and extending forgiveness to a woman of the street in the home of a self-righteous Pharisee (7:36-50).
Luke shows us that Jesus welcomed those who were otherwise marginalized—women, tax collectors, the demon possessed, and lepers. Jesus taught that there is hope for outcasts. More than that, there is joy in heaven when the lost are found and saved (ch. 15). He rebuked James and John when they wanted to bring fire down on the Samaritans for their inhospitality (9:52-55).
On the other hand, those who were held in high esteem in first century Jewish society were the target of His severest words—the Pharisees, scribes and lawyers (Luke 11:37-54). He condemned the unrepentant towns of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum who ignored His mighty works (Luke 10:13-16). The parables of Luke 15 all point to certain judgment on those who criticized Jesus for welcoming sinners and even eating with them.
Best Small Group Bible Study Ever
In Luke we see Jesus as a Man of prayer who taught His disciples to pray through precept and example. He set His face to go to Jerusalem knowing that He would die to redeem His people (9:51).
In chapter 24, Luke recounts how the resurrected Jesus opened the eyes of His disciples to what the then-existent Scriptures (our Old Testament) said about Him. Luke concludes his gospel (and begins his book of Acts) with the ascension of Jesus which left the disciples worshiping and blessing God with great joy (24:50-53; Acts 1:9-11).
Should we not listen to the unlikely evangelist, Luke, and worship and bless God with great joy, too?
This week’s reading: Isaiah 1-27