“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” —Luke 19:10
Overview of Luke
In his introduction, Luke tells us he has written this gospel so that we can be certain that our faith in Jesus rests on a firm historical foundation (1:1–4). He introduces us to Jesus, who is the Son of God, the Lord, and the Messiah. Luke’s emphasis, however, is on Jesus the Saviour of the world. In her song of praise at the beginning of the gospel, Mary “rejoices in God my Saviour” (1:47). From then on we see Jesus saving sinners. This reaches its climax in the wonderful salvation of the chief tax collector, Zacchaeus, and Jesus announcing that He has come to seek and save the lost (19:10). Appropriately, the gospel ends with Jesus commissioning His disciples to take this good news of forgiveness to the entire world.
The wonderful gift of salvation demands a response of faith and obedience. The central section of the gospel (9:51–19:44) describes Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem and His death on a cross. As He walks along the road, He teaches His followers about the way of discipleship. We are to follow in His footsteps as we live lives of love, mercy, and generosity. Jesus warns us that discipleship is costly and we, like Jesus, must be willing to carry the cross of suffering and rejection (14:27). Yet, glory awaits at the end of our journey, just as it did for Him. For us, it is the certain hope of Paradise (23:43).
We are going to spend the next 62 days on a wonderful journey through the gospel of Luke, studying the life and work of Jesus.There is little in the Christian life more important than having confidence in the Bible. Everything we know about the life of Jesus comes mostly from the four Gospels in the New Testament. The old chorus remains profoundly true: “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” Therefore, we need to be certain of the Bible’s authenticity. That is why Luke begins his gospel with a prologue, a defence for the trustworthiness of all that he is about to write.
Luke was one of Paul’s missionary colleagues, a friend of the apostles, and a doctor. He is writing this gospel for a noble Gentile called Theophilus, literally “friend of God”. Theophilus may have been a Christian, or perhaps a seeker after God. However, no matter who Theophilus was, Luke’s gospel has been written for every man and woman, both then and now.
Yes, we can trust Luke’s gospel. First, because the good news he records came from the many eyewitnesses who were present. All he has written is about “things that have been fulfilled among us” (v. 1). God promised salvation. Jesus accomplished it. Many people witnessed it. Luke has written it down for us.
Second, we can trust Luke because he has carefully investigated everything (v. 3). A historian must be thorough and organised, concerned with both accuracy and truth. Luke assures us that there is nothing in his account that he hasn’t checked, doublechecked, and verified.
Sometimes we can doubt the truth of our faith. Many people dismiss Jesus, and some eminent scholars even ridicule the authenticity of the Bible. On a personal level, we may wonder if Jesus is really God’s Son and our Saviour. But through his gospel, Luke is saying to us, “You can be sure!” These words are true, and you can build your life on these truths.
Sometimes, people speak of “blind faith”, or of faith as being a “leap in the dark”. In the light of Luke 1:1–4, are such metaphors appropriate? What do these verses tell us about the character of true Christian faith?
Why does Luke call the eyewitnesses “servants of the word” (v. 2)? What is this “word” to which Luke refers? What is it about the work of a servant that makes this description so significant?