Timing is Everything
You’ve noticed that we are reading the gospels out of their published order. We began with Mark (because it is the earliest and shortest gospel), moved to Matthew and John, and now we are reading Luke. Luke’s famous infancy narrative is the reason we’re reading this gospel as we move into the Christmas season.
The gospel of Luke is part 1 of a 2 part story. In January we will read Acts, the 2nd part of Luke’s story.
What Luke’s Introduction Tells Us
Luke begins his narrative by giving us a glimpse into how he went about writing his gospel:
So many others have tried their hand at putting together a story of the wonderful harvest of Scripture and history that took place among us, using reports handed down by the original eyewitnesses who served this Word with their very lives. Since I have investigated all the reports in close detail, starting from the story’s beginning, I decided to write it all out for you, most honorable Theophilus, so you can know beyond the shadow of a doubt the reliability of what you were taught. (Luke 1:1-4 The Message)
Luke was aware that “many others have tried their hand at putting together” accounts of Jesus’ life. These narratives were based on “reports handed down by the original eyewitnesses” to Jesus’ earthly life. Luke “investigated all the reports in close detail” and shaped his own account from them.
We don’t know who Theophilus was. Luke only reveals that he is a Christ follower who has received instruction in the Christian faith. Theophilus is literally friend of God.
Some Things to Notice as You Read
• Luke is the most gentile of the gospels. Luke, who was presumably non-Jewish, was keenly interested in Jesus’ encounters with people who were not Jews. Luke’s focus is on outsiders.
• Luke includes the story of John the Baptizer’s birth.
• The infancy narrative is from Mary’s point of view.
• Luke-only material includes some of the most famous stories in the Bible: Prodigal Son (15:11-32), Good Samaritan (10:29-37), Zaccheus (19:1-10)
• According to tradition the gospel was written by “Luke the beloved physician” (Col. 4:14). Second century Christian sources report that Luke accompanied Paul on his missionary journeys and composed his gospel from reports which he gathered.
• Luke presents Jesus as the advocate of the outsiders.
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