References: Luke

Table of Contents

MISS WALLACE: Yes, Luke, a good old Biblical name. It means light.

The Biblical Persona

luke.jpgThe apostle Paul refered to him as “the beloved physician” and represented in biblical imagery as an ox. Luke, a physician and well educated man from Rome, emphasized the suffering of Jesus and pictured him as one who bore the burdens of the world on his shoulders. The name literally means bringer of light or morning.

The originality of Luke is in his religious mentality: he is the faithful recorder of Christ’s loving-kindness and he emphasizes the necessity for prayers. These qualities, combined with that joy in God and that gratitude to him for his gifts which fill the third gospel, are the ones that go to make Luke’s achievement the warm and human account that it is.

The Bible Book

Luke writes in a Greek of high quality as is evident here and in the book of Acts for which he is also author. The books of Luke and Acts together comprise about a quarter of the New Testament. Only in Luke are found the ‘Magnificat’, the story of the birth of John the Baptist, the Christmas story of the shepherds, the parables of the Good Samaritan, the lost sheep, and the prodigal son. Luke is the only one who records the story of the Good Samaritan ministering to the wounded traveller, and there are many lines in the picture of this incident which bring out, strikingly, the distinctive character of this third Gospel.Luke writes a ‘religious history’ – that is, it is a biography, but also a proclamation – a theology of history. Apparently, Luke felt a need to unify the varied and scattered accounts of Jesus’ life and teachings that were present at this time. Luke’s work contains notes of social, humanitarian, and historical interest, and is sometimes called the ‘social gospel’. In fact much of our specific knowledge of Christianity comes from this gospel and the book of Acts. His book is apparently well planned in that it has a preface, dedication, and accounts of sources.

His gospel was written for gentile Christians about 70 to 85 AD, after the fall of Jerusalem and the Destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. Luke portrays a universal, world religion. The narrative is controlled and edited to bring in much teaching and parables, and to omit episodes that would not interest Luke’s non-Jewish readers. Luke’s Gospel invites us, with “ears to hear,” to listen deeply to what the heart is hearing.

In Luke, Christ is seen in racial connections as the Son of Man, contrasted from the sons of men. Matthew is designed specially for the Jews; Mark is peculiarly suited to God’s servants; Luke is adapted to men as men—all men; while John’s is the one wherein the church establishment has found its chief delight.
Luke’s Gospel, then, is the Gospel of Christ’s Manhood. It shows us God manifest in flesh. It presents Christ as “The Son of Man”, having come down to our level, entering into our conditions (sin excepted), subject to our circumstances, and living his life on the same plane as ours is lived. The “Son of Man” links Christ with the earth. Luke speaks of his personal knowledge of that of which he is about to treat. He refers to what others had done before him in this direction, but feels the need of a more orderly and full setting forth of those things which were most surely believed.

Other features which are particularly prominent in this Gospel, and which are in striking accord with its particular theme and scope:

  • The full description here given of fallen human nature.
  • Jesus is referred to as “the friend” of publicans and sinners.
  • Jesus is here portrayed as a man of prayer.
  • Christ is frequently seen here eating food.
  • The circumstances connected with his death and resurrection.
  • The awful hour spent in Gethsemane is described in this third Gospel with a fullness of detail which is not found in the others.
  • After his resurrection from the dead, it is only Luke who mentions that long walk of the Saviour with the two disciples, and of the familiar intercourse which they had together as they journeyed to Emmaus.
  • Luke is the only one who presents the Lord to our view as eating food after he had risen in triumph from the grave.
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