“Look, we are all friends here…” So begins the scene in a movie when the main character cuts to the chase with his team, group or friends. Let’s use the same line to look at the Christian life. Together we let the Word of God challenge us to be strong in the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. It won’t be easy, but you will have your friends to support you on the journey!
Our “Word With Friends” sermon series will look at discipleship teachings of Jesus as recorded in the book of Luke. To help us prepare for this candid faith conversation, here’s some background on Luke, the Gospel and the Gospel writer.
The Gospel of Luke
Author: Luke, the beloved doctor – cf. Colossians 4:14. He was a convert to Judaism/Christianity. Luke was likely from Antioch or Troas, as this is where he joins Paul in his missionary journey – cf. Acts 16:10 where Luke switches to the “first person plural.”
Luke stays with Paul seemingly throughout the rest of Paul’s life: Paul makes reference to him in 2 Timothy 4:11 as the only one still by his side. We might speculate that God had specifically raised up Luke to be a traveling companion for Paul, as Paul was plagued with an affliction, likely poor eyesight, and a doctor would be most helpful.
Address: Theophilus, a noble Greek, perhaps a governor due to the title “Most Excellent.” Theophilus is considered the benefactor of Luke. His name means, “Lover of God,” but we do not need to allegorize this fact.
Sources: Luke carefully investigates the matter of Jesus, drawing on eyewitness accounts from which he writes an orderly record. This does not preclude inspiration; on the contrary, this is the method that God the Holy Spirit causes him to use.
Style: Luke uses the best Greek of any author in the New Testament. In the introduction, he writes like a historian, using a form very much like Polybius and Josephus.
Content: While the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) are said to see the account of Jesus together, they are also unique. Luke has the most unique material of the three, a full 45%. He is giving an orderly account to those who do not know much about Jesus. Therefore, he uses some of the most minute details – cf. Luke 4:38-39, where Luke records that Peter’s mother-in-law was sick with a “high” fever, where Matthew simply records that it was a fever.
Purpose: Perhaps the most important thing to consider with the Gospel of Luke is “why.” Why did he write what he did? It seems clear that Luke is recording more of a scene-by-scene account of Jesus. He is emphasizing the importance of the entirety of the life of Jesus. Therefore, he has the most complete account of the Nativity, which Mark and John ignore. He is the only author to record an account of something Jesus did as a child – cf. Luke 2:41-51.
The purpose of writing goes beyond the orderliness and completeness of the life of Jesus. Some have said that Luke is the gospel for the outcast, the outsider.
Luke is a Gentile, and he is writing to a Gentile. You can see this in the way he always defines locations and places that would have been obvious to most Jews.
As further evidence, it is always a surprise who shows up “at the table” in Luke. He gives prominence to the activity of women. Luke is the only one who records the Parable of the Good Samaritan and the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Luke wants the lost to know that God is seeking them, regardless of the reason, or perceived reason, for the separation.
Join us as we take a look at some of Jesus’ teaching in Luke; it’s a word with friends kind of moment, a moment of candid challenge and encouragement on the discipleship path.