EVERY birth is a miracle, and every child is a gift from God. But nearly 20 centuries ago, there was the miracle of miracles. A baby was born, but he was the Son of God. The Gospels tell of this birth, but Dr Luke, as though he were the attending physician, provides most of the details surrounding this awesome occasion. With divine Father and human mother, Jesus entered history – God in the flesh.
Luke affirms Jesus’ divinity, but the real emphasis of his book is to show Jesus’ humanity – Jesus, the Son of God, is also the Son of Man. As a doctor, Luke was a man of science, and as a Greek, he was a man of detail. It is not surprising, then, that he begins by outlining his extensive research and explaining that he is reporting the facts (1:1-4). Luke was also a close friend and travelling companion of Paul, so he could interview the other disciples, had access to other historical accounts, and was an eyewitness to the birth and growth of the early church. His Gospel and book of Acts are reliable, historical documents.
Luke’s story begins with angels appearing to Zechariah and then to Mary, telling them of the coming births of their sons. From Zechariah and Elizabeth would come John the Baptist, who would prepare the way for Christ. And Mary would conceive by the Holy Spirit and bear Jesus, the Son of God. Soon after John’s birth, Caesar Augustus declared a census, and so Mary and Joseph travelled to Bethlehem, the town of David, their ancient ancestor. There the child was born. Angels announced the joyous event to shepherds, who rushed to the manger. When the shepherds left, they were praising God and spreading the news. Eight days later, Jesus was circumcised and then dedicated to God in the temple, where Simeon and Anna confirmed Jesus’ identity as the Saviour, their Messiah.
Luke gives us a glimpse of Jesus at the age of 12 – discussing theology with the teachers of the law at the temple (2:41-52). The next event occurred 18 years later, when we read of John the Baptist preaching in the desert. Jesus came to John to be baptised before beginning his public ministry (3:1-38). At this point, Luke traces Jesus’ genealogy on his stepfather Joseph’s side, through David and Abraham back to Adam, underscoring Jesus’ identity as the Son of Man.
After the temptation (4:1-13), Jesus returned to Galilee to preach, teach, and heal (4:14-21:38). During this time, he began gathering his group of 12 disciples (5:1-10, 27-29). Later Jesus commissioned the disciples and sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God. When they returned, Jesus revealed to them his mission, his true identity, and what it means to be his disciple (9:18-62). His mission would take him to Jerusalem (9:51-53), where he would be rejected, tried, and crucified.
While Jesus carried his own cross to Golgotha, some women in Jerusalem wept for him, but Jesus told them to weep for themselves and for their children (23:28). But Luke’s Gospel does not end in sadness. It concludes with the thrilling account of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, his appearances to the disciples, and his promise to send the Holy Spirit (24:1-53). Read Luke’s beautifully written and accurate account of the life of Jesus, Son of Man and Son of God. Then praise God for sending the Saviour for all people – our risen and triumphant Lord.
PURPOSE: To present an accurate account of the life of Christ and to present Christ as the perfect human and Saviour
AUTHOR: Luke – a doctor (Colossians 4:14), a Greek and Gentile Christian. He is the only known Gentile author in the New Testament. Luke was a close friend and companion of Paul. He also wrote Acts, and the two books go together.
TO WHOM WRITTEN: Theophilus (“one who loves God”), Gentiles, and people everywhere
DATE WRITTEN: About A.D. 60
SETTING: Luke wrote from Rome or possibly from Caesarea.
Key Verses: “Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost’” (19:9, 10).
KEY PEOPLE: Jesus, Elizabeth, Zechariah, John the Baptist, Mary, the disciples, Herod the Great, Pilate, Mary Magdalene
KEY PLACES: Bethlehem, Galilee, Judea, Jerusalem
SPECIAL FEATURES: This is the most comprehensive Gospel. The general vocabulary and diction show that the author was educated. He makes frequent references to illnesses and diagnoses. Luke stresses Jesus’ relationships with people; emphasises prayer, miracles, and angels; records inspired hymns of praise; and gives a prominent place to women. Most of 9:51-18:35 is not found in any other Gospel.
Birth And Preparation Of Jesus, The Saviour (1:1-4:13) From an infant who could do nothing on his own, Jesus grew to become completely able to fulfil his mission on earth. He was fully human, developing in all ways like us. Yet he remained fully God. He took no shortcuts and was not isolated from the pressures and temptations of life. There are no shortcuts for us either as we prepare for a life of service to God.
Message And Ministry Of Jesus, The Saviour (4:14-21:38) Jesus taught great crowds of people, especially through parables, which are stories with great truths. But only those with ears to hear will understand. We should pray that God’s Spirit would help us to understand the implications of these truths for our lives so we can become more and more like Jesus.
- Jesus’ ministry in Galilee
- Jesus’ ministry on the way to Jerusalem
- Jesus’ ministry in Jerusalem
Death And Resurrection Of Jesus, The Saviour (22:1-24:53) The Saviour of the world was arrested and executed. But death could not destroy him, and Jesus came back to life and ascended to heaven. In Luke’s careful, historical account, we receive the facts about Jesus’ resurrection. We must not only believe that these facts are true, but we must also trust Christ as our Saviour. It is shortsighted to neglect these facts, but how said it is to accept the facts and neglect the forgiveness that Jesus offers to each of us.
Jesus Christ, the Saviour
EXPLANATION: Luke describes how God’s Son entered human history. Jesus lived as the perfect example of a human. After a perfect ministry, he provided a perfect sacrifice for our sin so we could be saved.
IMPORTANCE: Jesus is our perfect leader and Saviour. He offers forgiveness to all who will accept him as Lord of their lives and believe that what he says is true.
EXPLANATION: Luke was a medical doctor and historian. He put great emphasis on dates and details, connecting Jesus to events and people in history.
IMPORTANCE: Luke gives details so that we can believe in the reliability of the history of Jesus’ life. Even more importantly, we can believe with certainty that Jesus is God.
EXPLANATION: Jesus was deeply interested in people and relationships. He showed warm concern for his followers and friends – men, women, and children.
IMPORTANCE: Jesus’ love for people is good news for everyone. His message is for all people in every nation. Each one of us has an opportunity to respond to him in faith.
EXPLANATION: As a perfect human, Jesus showed tender sympathy to the poor, the despised, the hurt, and the sinful. No-one was rejected or ignored by him.
IMPORTANCE: Jesus is more than an idea or teacher – he cares for you. Only this kind of deep love can satisfy your need.
EXPLANATION: The Holy Spirit was present at Jesus’ birth, baptism, ministry, and resurrection. As a perfect example for us, Jesus lived in dependence on the Holy Spirit.
IMPORTANCE: The Holy Spirit was sent by God as confirmation of Jesus’ authority. The Holy Spirit is given to enable people to live for Christ. By faith we can have the Holy Spirit’s presence and power to witness and to serve.
©Kingsway International Church, 1973.