Luke gives a historical view of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. He emphasized that the gospel of the Kingdom of God is for all humanity through Christ.
Luke “the beloved physician” (Colossians 4:14) was one of the best writers in the Bible. William Barclay, referring to Luke 1:1-4, wrote: “First and foremost, Luke’s gospel is an exceedingly careful bit of work. His Greek is notably good. The first four verses are well-nigh the best Greek in the New Testament. In them he claims that his work is the product of the most careful research. … Luke uses here the very form of introduction which the great Greek historians all used” (The Gospel of Luke, 2001, pp. 3 and 9).
His book is addressed to a Greek named Theophilus, as is the book of Acts, also written by Luke.
Barclay also states, “Luke wrote mainly for Gentiles. Theophilus was a Gentile, as was Luke himself, and there is nothing in the gospel that a Gentile could not grasp and understand” (p. 3). Luke’s book is a treasure trove of help and encouragement to people of all nations and backgrounds. It is sometimes referred to as the “universal gospel.”
Luke was a companion of the apostle Paul for many years (Acts 16:10-11; 20:6; 28:10-16). His commitment to God and to being a great help to the apostle Paul during some very trying and difficult times provides us with an insight into the deep dedication Luke had to God and His work. And so God inspired Luke to write for us about the life and ministry of Jesus Christ from his perspective.
It is quite likely that talking with Paul, as well as many eyewitnesses to the life of Christ, enabled Luke to write with fullness about Christ’s life and the Kingdom of God.
The message of Luke
Luke writes about Jesus Christ as the “Son of Man” (Luke 5:24). He shows that Jesus was indeed a human being, but was also God, with a special love and concern for all humanity.
Luke writes about Jesus Christ as the “Son of Man” (Luke 5:24). He shows that Jesus was indeed a human being, but was also God, with a special love and concern for all humanity.About half of Luke’s Gospel consists of material not found in the other three Gospel accounts. For example, the details he gives of the birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:5-25, 57-80) and the birth and childhood of Jesus (Luke 1:26-56; 2:39-52) are unique to Luke.
There are several areas of emphasis in the book of Luke. It is predominantly historical and provides several references to the Roman Empire and the names of its leaders. Luke also is very good about naming the saints of God and their personal relationship with Jesus during His ministry.
Several doctrines are prominent in Luke, such as salvation (1:47, 69, 71, 77). One of the key sentences is Luke 19:10: “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” It is clear from Luke’s account that all humanity needs a Savior—Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
The doctrine of the Holy Spirit is another major emphasis in Luke. There are more references to the Holy Spirit in Luke than in Matthew and Mark combined. John the Baptist (1:15), Mary (1:35), Elizabeth (1:41), Zacharias (1:67), Simeon (2:25-26) and Jesus Christ Himself (4:1) are all mentioned as being empowered by God’s Holy Spirit.
Certain classes of people receive Luke’s special attention. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary says: “Before proceeding further it will be helpful at least to recognize some of the distinctive features of Luke’s Gospel, especially in comparison with other Gospels. Among these are Jesus’s concern for all people, especially those who were social outcasts—the poor, women, and those who were known as ‘sinners’” (Vol. 8, p. 798). Several parables contrast poverty and wealth in helping the reader to understand the Kingdom of God.
Another emphasis in Luke is prayer. Jesus is shown to be praying at His baptism (3:21), before His disputes with the Pharisees (5:16), before He chose the 12 apostles (6:12), prior to His first prediction of His death (9:18), at the Transfiguration (9:29) and during His crucifixion (23:46). Luke also states that Jesus prayed for Peter (22:32).
Among the several parables that are unique to Luke, one contains an important lesson about the need for prayer: the parable of the unjust judge (18:1-8).
The story in Luke’s Gospel continues in the book of Acts. Luke does not leave the reader without a continuing account from the resurrection of Christ to the beginnings of the New Testament Church of God.
His historical presentation is invaluable to anyone seeking God’s Kingdom. Luke shows how God is calling into His family people from every background.
Outline of the Gospel of Luke
Here is a suggested outline of the Gospel of Luke from The New Bible Commentary: Revised (1970, pp. 889-890):
- Preface: Luke 1:1-4.
- The birth and childhood of Christ: 1:5-2:52.
- John the Baptist and Jesus: 3:1-4:13.
- The ministry in Galilee: 4:14-9:50.
- The journey to Jerusalem: 9:51-19:10.
- The ministry in Jerusalem: 19:11-21:38.
- The passion and resurrection: 22:1-24:53.
When it seems no one cares
The book of Luke enables its reader to know that regardless of one’s personal status or background, Jesus Christ is the Helper and Savior everyone needs. And He will not leave anyone who is called by God unattended in his or her time of need.
It can be helpful to note once again that Luke emphasized those in his own day who were the “down and outers,” the “rejects” and “outcasts” of society. Luke is a book to read when your own life has had trials, problems and difficulties and when you feel that no one cares.
Luke shows us that Jesus Christ always cares and leaves no one without His divine help and intervention—all the way to His second coming.
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