3 Things You Should Know about Luke’s Gospel
Jesus embodies lowly character throughout His life; He was born in the humblest of circumstances (Luke 2:7), lived in the unremarkable town of Nazareth (Luke 4:16), and died an undeserving death for His people (Luke 22:1–23:56). But, on account of Jesus’ faithfulness, God vindicated the Son and exalted Jesus to the Father’s throne (Luke 24:50–53). Believers must take this pattern to heart because God promises that we too will undergo difficult circumstances. We will not be publicly vindicated until our physical resurrection at the consummation. Only in the eternal state will God’s people enjoy an exalted existence.
Luke’s gospel is the longest book in the New Testament and one of the most sophisticated. While most Christians are familiar with the birth of Christ in chapter 2, not many are familiar with some of the nuances of the third gospel that enrich our understanding of the person of Christ. Below we will attempt to carve out three areas that are often overlooked: the purpose of the book, the exaltation of the humble and the humbling of the proud, and Jesus’ relationship to the Old Testament.
1. The purpose of Luke.
New Testament authors don’t often inform the readers why they are writing a letter or gospel. But two of the four Gospels do such a thing. Luke explains to Theophilus in 1:4 that he’s writing to him so “that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.” While we don’t know much about Theophilus, scholars believe that he was likely a gentile who converted to Judaism and then subsequently to Christianity. Theophilus may have even funded Luke’s gospel and the book of Acts, since publishing in the first century was a costly endeavor. In any case, the point is that Luke writes Theophilus to confirm what Theophilus already knows. It appears, then, that Theophilus is familiar with the broad strokes of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, and Luke pens his gospel to fill in the gaps of Theophilus’ knowledge with the purpose of preserving his faith. This is an incredibly important principle, a principle that the church in the twenty-first century must value. One’s knowledge of Christ’s ministry is directly tied to one’s personal faith. When doubt creeps into our hearts, as it inevitably does, we must turn to the Gospels and refresh our minds with the truth of Christ’s birth, life, death, and resurrection.
2. The exaltation of the humble and the humbling of the proud.
Hymns in the Bible often encapsulate key themes, themes that are woven throughout the book (e.g., Dan. 2:20–23; Dan. 4:1–3, 34–35; Dan. 6:25–27).