a. They are the Word of God.
b. The life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ – which are at the core and heart of the Christian faith – are chronicled in these accounts.
c. Everything Jesus says is authoritative, and we must know what he says in order to obey it.
d. The Gospel accounts show us how Jesus, though God, was just as human as we were – and this ought to give us great comfort and encouragement (Heb 2: 14-18; Heb 4:15).
e. While the life devoted to God can, and should, be marked by joy and peace, it is no less a life that is characterized by self-denial, hardship, and “counting the cost of discipleship” – and no Biblical figure speaks of this more strongly than Jesus (Mt 10:37-39; Lk 9:23; 14:25-33).
f. Reading narrative is an important part of reading Scripture. The LORD designed the canon of scripture to feature different types of literature (history, poems, prose, narrative, apocalyptic) because each type speaks to different parts of us (or to different situations in our lives).
g. Certain quarters of our culture are still fascinated by Jesus, though they deny the authority of Scripture and all that it teaches. Whether in academic scholarship (Jesus Seminar), archaeology (The Lost Tomb of Jesus), or popular culture (The DaVinci Code), many individuals seek not only to express their interest in Jesus but to re-construct Him from their own imaginations. Knowing the Gospel accounts will re-familarize us with who the real Jesus really is, and put us in a stronger position not only to dismantle the false ideas of Jesus that people have, but proclaim the true Jesus who has loved us and brought us into His kingdom with His own blood.
h. An increasing number of segments within evangelical (i.e. historic Christian, Bible-believing) churches are beginning to disavow the practice of learning doctrine and propositional truth, and to downplay (if not deny outright) uncomfortable Biblical teachings such as hell. Rather, they claim to prefer the “simple life” and “simple words” of Jesus over, say, the “abstract, dry, and theological” words of the Apostle Paul. Knowing the Gospel accounts puts us in a better position to help some our fellow Christians see that a) Jesus was no less adamant about the importance of truth than any other Biblical author; and b) Jesus spoke more about the doctrine of hell than anyone.
II. WHY STUDY LUKE IN PARTICULAR?
- It seems to be the most neglected book of the four Gospel accounts. We tend to give more attention to Matthew, because it’s the first; Mark, because it’s the shortest; and John, because it’s the most unique and profound.
- It is the longest and most comprehensive portrait of the life, death and resurrection of Christ. There is a lot of material in it that is not found in the other Gospels (1:5-80; 2:1-52; 3:19-20; 4:16-30; 5:1-11; 7:11-17; 36-50; 8:1-3; 10:1-18:14; 19:1-27; 23:6-12; 24:44-49).
- Luke emphasizes Jesus’ compassion for the poor. While we rightly oppose any movement that would seek to focus only on the “social” aspect of Christianity (to the exclusion of the doctrinal and spiritual), it is important for us not to overlook Christ’s special and active concern for the marginalized and the outcasts - and how we, as His disciples, are to emulate Him in this way.
- More than the other three accounts, Luke presents Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of God’s plan to deliver His people from sin and death. There are many references and allusions to Old Testament Scriptures which promise a coming Messiah, as well as the account of the risen Jesus explaining to the two travelling companions “what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself” (Lk 24:27). So Luke reminds us that the theme of the entire Bible is Jesus Christ.
III. AUTHOR, DATE, RECIPIENTS
Luke, a Gentile physician, who was a friend and co-worker of the Apostle Paul (Col 4:14).
An interesting note: since Luke wrote not only the Book of Luke but also the Book of Acts, he is the one who contributes the most material to the New Testament – even more than the Apostle Paul. How fitting, then, that it should turn out like this, because it confirms the glorious New Testament truth that Gentiles are part of the true people of God!
Date: Likely between A.D. 62 and 65
Recipient: Theophilus. Some commenators have suggested Theophilus is just a “metaphor” for anyone who is “a lover of God” (for that is what the name means). However, it is more likely that Theophilus was a real person, a Gentile Christian who needed assurance in his faith.
IV. OUTLINE of THE ENTIRE BOOK
(Adapted from Darrell Bock’s NIV Application Commenary – Luke: Zondervan, 1996)
1) God’s plan and faithfulness as shown first through the birth and rise of John the Baptizer, and then ultimately through the birth and growth of Jesus (Luke 1:1-2:52)
2) John’s call to repentance as the way for people to prepare for the Messiah (3:1-4:13)
3) The activity, power and Messiah-ship of Jesus (4:14-9:50)
4) The meaning of discipleship, and growing opposition to Jesus (9:51-19:44)
5) Jesus’ path towards his trial, death and resurrection (19:45-24:53)