Reflections On Luke
Rev. R. Scott Weatherford
Luke was a doctor and traveling companion of Paul. There is little or no biblical evidence of Luke’s life other than the two books, the Gospel of Luke and Acts of the Apostles, that he recorded. We don’t know how Luke came to know Jesus or how his life intersected with Paul. Luke might well have been an eyewitness to Jesus but there are no indications of that relationship. Regardless of these missing pieces, what we do know with certainty is, Jesus captured his heart and life.
Luke’s methodical, systematic account of Jesus captivates us. Because of the precision required by his profession, Luke is detailed. He makes sure to include historical markers that validate the historical evidence of Jesus’ life.
While Luke used Mark’s writings as a spring board for his account, his intent was to give us a different perspective. To that end, he amplified Mark’s story with eyewitness accounts and used the songs of the early church to augment the poetic and prophetic expressions found in his account.
Luke wrote to Theophilus. We are not sure if this was an actual person or a general audience. Theo means God in the Greek and philus could mean friend. Luke could have been writing to an individual man or to anyone who is a friend of God. Regardless, we are the ones who benefit from his retelling of Jesus’ life.
Some Things to Notice:
As a Gentile, Luke was considered unclean and not worthy of salvation by the Jewish people. We know by reading Isaiah and other Old Testament writings that the Jewish people had missed the mark of God’s intent to make reconciliation available to everyone, wrongly thinking they had God all to themselves. It is amazing that Paul, who would have been the most racist as a Pharisee, accepted Luke into his inner circle. Luke goes to great lengths to show how Jesus proactively included all people in his ministry as he retells the story for us. Salvation through Christ Jesus is available to all who believe…Jew or Gentile.
Luke broke with tradition by including women in his account. Jewish men considered women to be subhuman. This was also the view of most of the ancient world. Luke validates the worth of women and includes them in the gospel story as major players. Luke confronts racists and misogynists as he reflects on the ways Jesus included individuals who were marginalized.
Luke also included the broken. In Luke’s world, brokenness was the worst state. To the Jew, brokenness was to be out cast, unclean, and unredeemable. Sinners, tax collectors, prostitutes, lepers, blind, lame, and the like were “boils on the backside of humanity.” In Luke’s world physical perfection, outward purity, and religious piety were traits of the accepted. Jesus is a friend of sinners. Luke goes out of his way to reveal the compassion and inclusion of Jesus. There is no one in history like Jesus. It is Jesus’ desire that we see people as He does, love as He loves, and respond as he responds. Elitism, racism, arrogance, entitlement, chauvinism, and other such attitudes have no place in the lives of those who follow Jesus. Luke reveals the compassion of Jesus as an example for us. We are all broken and Jesus invites us to come to Him.
Luke also gives credence to the work of the Holy Spirit. More so than the other gospels, Luke points out the power of the Holy Spirit and His work in the life of Jesus. Luke could have included the work of the Holy spirit in his account to set up the supernatural working of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts. In Acts, the Holy Spirit takes center stage as the compelling mover in the early church. Luke intentionally introduced the Holy Spirit in his gospel to fully reveal Him in the book of Acts. Luke wanted his readers to know that the Holy Spirit was always at work in the earthly ministry of Jesus, and in the church Jesus left to fulfill the mandate of the gospel.
Luke could have been refuting the heresy of Gnosticism. This heresy was that Jesus was not fully God and fully man along with other false revelations. Including the Holy Spirit’s role in the incarnation of Jesus brings the divine and human into the beautiful picture of the God head.
Lastly, Luke had no idea that he was writing the Bible. He simply followed a divine mandate, empowered by the Holy Spirit to record the things he had seen, heard, and for which he had given his life.
As you read Luke, read with expectation and acceptance. This is not just a book to study but a guide to how Jesus is building your life. Luke is a guide to intentional discipleship. Luke wrote this for us, for you, for now, so enjoy!