Luke can be a difficult gospel to read straight through. On this week’s podcast, Cole dubbed it the most likely to be your least favorite gospel. Regardless of where it is in your hierarchy, Luke showcases unique moments in Jesus’ life and ministry and emphasizes some themes that set it apart from the other gospels.
Church tradition identifies Luke being a physician who was converted on one of Paul’s missionary journeys. He was a companion of Paul’s, highly educated, and wrote with excellent Greek. Surprisingly, he was not an eye-witness to Christ although he collected eye-witness testimonies and performed research on the life of Christ (see Luke 1:1-4). Luke wanted his readers to know about the life of Christ through historically verifiable sources. It is likely that Luke received a lot of his information from Mark, who also worked with Paul and compiled all of his information in his own gospel around the year 64 AD.
Unlike the other gospels, Luke is arranged geographically:
Chapters 1-2: Birth narrative
Chapters 3-4: Childhood/preparation for ministry in Nazareth
Chapters 5-9: Ministry in Galilee
Chapters 10-19: Jesus begins to head to Jerusalem.
Chapters 20-24: Jesus in Jerusalem
Various stories and parables are unique to the Gospel of Luke including the account of Zechariah and Elizabeth (Luke chapter 1), Jesus’ birth (2:1-40), and the healing of the 10 lepers (17:11-19). Luke’s unique focus included physical characteristics and money – both of these things are combined in the story of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10) and the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). The role of the Holy Spirit is also a key aspect in Luke. Other main themes include focusing on the danger of riches and understanding Christ as the fulfillment of the Old Testament.
Showing that Jesus is the fulfillment of the plan of God (example Luke 24 and the road to Emmaus) is one of Luke’s main goals in writing this Gospel. He desires his readers to see and understand Jesus as the culmination of the Old Testament. This overarching theme is seen in much more detail throughout the book of Acts as seen in the ministries of Stephen and Paul, verifying this focus in the Gospel of Luke. Praise God for the fulfillment of His promise in Christ. Let this encourage you as you share the story of Christ with others.
Brittany Proffitt lives in southern Ohio, holds a BA in Religion, and is a student at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. She is passionate about Scripture and how God’s Word impacts individuals’ hearts and lives.