Introduction to the Gospel of Luke

Introduction to Luke’s Gospel

Lukan Overview – Jesus Christ, Savior of Adam’s Line (the Nations)

Summary of Goals

I have two main goals and three subgoals this morning – first, to tell you a little bit about me and, second, to introduce the Gospel of Luke.  In introducing Luke, we’ll talk specifically about (subgoal #1) Luke (the author of this Gospel), and (subgoal #2) about the Jesus of Luke’s Gospel.  Then we will spend a short time on the third subgoal which is to answer the question, “How does or how should Luke’s Gospel about this Jesus impact us this morning?”

 

Goal #1 – Who am I?

Who am I?  I am a bondservant of Jesus Christ, but I was not always so. There is nothing special about me other than Jesus Christ.  I am able to identify with every one of you in this way – I was a sinner and still struggle with sin.  I was born into a Christianized home, attended church faithfully, was an acolyte, a member of the youth group, took the Lord’s Supper, was confirmed at the age of 13 and had a relatively moral existence.  I never experimented – not once before I was 21 – with alcohol; I have still never experienced with any kind of drug, but I was a great sinner.  I had other lusts – resentment, anger, a lying tongue, a cursing tongue, immorality, and disobedience among others.  But more than that, I so deeply hated God that I did not know that I hated Him.  I was a sinner, and therefore, all that I loved was sinfully opposed and at war with God.  God would have been just to condemn as guilty.  But God had mercy on me – He sat His Word before me and by His Spirit, He opened it up to me and revealed to me my sin, its consequences and His wrath abiding, but also the perfect sinlessness of Jesus – and the call of the Gospel became to me at that point irresistible – Jesus was and is my salvation, and I had to have Him, and God freely gave Him for me and to me.  I repented of my sin and embraced Jesus through faith as Lord of me and Savior of me – and He is saving me to this very second.  That is the testimony that God has given to me.

  Allow me to share, quickly, one thing that I believe and hope will be helpful for you as we study through Luke – the Bible is the inerrant, objective, and authoritative Word of God.  It is inerrant – from cover to cover there is no error.  In its entirety, it is the revealed truth of God.  The Bible calls the Bible wholly true.  “The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever” (Psalm 119:160).  It is objective – God’s Word comes from God.  It stands outside of us, in God’s grace comes to us, and presses upon us, and is not subject to our acceptance of it.  Whether we accept it or not, it is the Word of God.  “Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens” (119:89).  It is authoritative – the Word of God is sovereign over our philosophies, ideologies, falsehoods.  Against this Word, such human thoughts fall to the ground in defeat.  All of our thinking about ourselves, about God, Jesus, sin, repentance, daily living, etc. must be continually brought in subjection to God’s Word.  It is God’s Word – it will suffice to quote the Bible, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  

That is my testimony and one, I believe, very important reality to take with us as we move through Luke’s Gospel.  So, goal #2 is to introduce Luke’s Gospel this morning.  In order to do this, we have three subgoals in the form of questions:

Question #1“Who is Luke and why has he written?”

Question #2“Who is this Jesus that Luke is wanting us to embrace for salvation?”

Question #3“How does or how should Luke’s Gospel about this Jesus impact us this morning?”

 

Goal #2 – Introduction of Luke

Subgoal #1 – Who is Luke and why has he written?

I love Luke, if not for anything else but that he is so unique – a Gentile disciple of the Jewish Messiah, a physician, historian, evangelist, companion of Paul, who is so in love with the Gospel of Christ that he laughs in the face of death on behalf of it.  Love Luke!  Let’s take these parts and break them down.

Who is Luke? Luke is a Gentile, not a Jew.  Why is this important?  Because Matthew was a Jew, Mark was a Jew, and John was a Jew.  Because Jesus was a Jew, whose primary ministry was to Jews.  But Luke was a Gentile.  Luke’s being a Gentile and a saved person is extremely important for most of us.  Why?  Because the majority of us are Gentiles and not Jews.  But had you asked an orthodox Jew 2000 years ago, or an orthodox Jew today who would be receiving the salvation of the Messiah and the answer is going to be the Jews.  So it is of importance to us that Luke was a Gentile and also a convert to Christianity, a disciple of the Jewish Messiah, Jesus Christ.  We’ll talk about why this is important in just a few moments.    

Luke is a physician, historian, and evangelist.  This means that we have an intelligent, and careful person whose intelligence and care are being used for the glory and purpose of God in helping his audience (which includes us) understand the message of salvation through the words, person, and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.  As Matt Chandler puts it, Luke was a skeptic.  We do not have someone who is easily carried away by myths, but a meticulous surgeon who is concerned with healing the sick of soul with the balm of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  In the prologue to his Gospel, Luke writes:

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught” Luke 1:1-4.

He “followed all things closely for some time past” and wrote “an orderly account” of his careful studies.  All things were tested closely.  The birth of the forerunner.  The virgin birth of Christ.  The childhood of Christ.  The miracles of Christ.  The teachings of Christ.  The company of Christ.  The prophecies of Christ.  The consuming goal of Christ.  All things were tested closely for some time past.  What we have then in Luke’s Gospel is a combination of these gifts – intelligence, unwillingness to be duped, and passion for souls – and they give us “an orderly account” of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Luke is a companion of Paul, and a man of remarkable faith and unswerving love for the cause of Christ.  Briefly, Luke is also the author of the book of Acts.  In Acts, there are three “we” passages.  In Acts 16, 20-21, and 27-28, Luke, instead of writing “Paul” or “they”, writes “we” to indicate his presence with Paul at certain points during his missionary journeys.  Why is this important for us to know?  At least two reasons: first, Luke seemed to have always been faithful to Paul and to the Gospel.  We know that Paul did not fear confrontation.  He confronted Peter once concerning the Gospel, and Barnabas another time over Mark (the author of the second Gospel) concerning missionary work, but the Bible never indicates such a confrontation between Paul and Luke.  Paul calls him, “the beloved physician” (Colossians 4:14).  

But Luke was also a man of unswerving love for the cause of Christ.  How do we know this?  Paul is about to be killed for his faith in Christ.  He writes a letter to young Timothy (2 Timothy), asking him to come to him in Rome.  Much like the night of Christ’s crucifixion, all of Paul’s companions desert him for fear of association – all but one, Luke.  Paul writes, “Luke alone is with me” (2 Timothy 4:11).  Luke did not fear association with Paul, an association that could cost him his own life for the sake of the Gospel – when everyone else faced this prospect, they ran – except for Luke.  This is the caricature of Luke – a Gentile believer, physician, historian, evangelist, companion of Paul, remarkably faithful and unswervingly in love with the Gospel.  

Why has he written? Very simply, to give one Gentile, Theophilus, certainty concerning the message about Jesus Christ.  Throughout Luke, we will see him expanding his content (beyond Theophilus) about Jesus’ ministry to people other than the Jews, and so we might say that Luke also sought to evangelize and give certainty to the nations about Jesus Christ.  Luke’s motivation is focused on “certainty” and Jesus Christ, which makes this Gospel extremely timely for us.  For there has never been a time since the days of Christ until this very day, where all were in certain agreement over the identity of Jesus and the message of salvation.  In the middle of every myth, every erroneous teaching, from the Jesus Seminar to “Jesus is my homeboy” t-shirts, and sadly, even within the teaching of the Church,  Luke stands with evangelical zeal to say “this is the biblical Jesus, this is reality.  You may embrace this Jesus with certainty! . . .And you must certainly repent and believe in this Jesus if you are to be saved.”  This brings us to question #2 (subgoal #2) – “Who is this Jesus that Luke would have us embrace for salvation?” 

Subgoal #2 – Who is this Jesus that Luke would have us embrace for salvation?

Who is Jesus? What Jesus do we find in Luke’s Gospel? The immediate answer is that we find the biblical Jesus that we learn of in the rest of the Bible.  But how does Luke particularly teach us about Jesus Christ?  Luke records a lot about Jesus, right – it is the Gospel.  But we need to focus in on a few aspects of Jesus that really capture Luke’s inspired portrayal of Jesus and are central to our understanding of Jesus Christ.  We are going to take a look at 4 essential truths about Jesus according to Luke, and unpack them – Jesus acts with authority, Jesus actively pursues (is on mission for) outcast sinners, Jesus was bound for Jerusalem from birth, and Jesus is the son of Adam (as well as Abraham, and obviously, God).

Jesus acts with authority.  In Luke 4, Jesus is tempted by Satan with all the kingdoms of the world and the authority to rule over them.  The price is to worship the devil.  Jesus contends with him with a greater authority, the authority of the Word of God.  From this moment forward, Jesus’ ministry is marked by authority, nothing less than the authority of God.  Jesus’ miracles, healings, call, teachings, and redemptive work are all done with authority, in every way advancing the kingdom of God against the kingdom of the devil.  I want to draw our attention, primarily to the authority of His teaching and redemptive work.  

So, I sat down and read straight through Luke earlier this week and I found myself getting agitated and I couldn’t figure out what was agitating me.  But as I thought about it, it was the authority of Luke’s Gospel, in particular, the authority of Jesus’ words that was sort of irritating me.  And I began to think, why are His words irritating me?  I was being reminded of a bully, a dictator . . . a prophet, a king, a light, the Word of God.  You see, when I was able to identify that it was the authority of Christ’s words that was irritating me, I was then able to ask why? – and the answer came quickly – “In your soul and in your world of sin and chaos and tolerance and relativity and pluralism, a single, objective, authoritative Word was exactly what I needed to straighten me out and show me Salvation.”  His Word pricked me, convicted me.  In our day, I have grown accustomed to hearing a thousand voices and they were all saying different things and getting nowhere close to God.  But Jesus, the Word of God Incarnate, speaks in nothing but straight, authoritative truth propositions.  At this point His Words stopped irritating me, and became delightful to me because they were authoritatively pointing me to Him as the Way of salvation with God.  Let me give you a verse so that you know that I’m not the only one feeling this authority – “And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee.  And he was teaching them on the Sabbath, and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word possessed authority” Luke 4:31-32.  

Jesus actively pursues outcast sinners.  Jesus’ ministry was not to those who had something to offer, but to those with empty hands.  It was not to those who thought themselves well, but to those who knew that they were sick.  The religious who trusted in their own works angered Him, but the demon-possessed, the leper, the paralytic, the dying and dead, the sinful woman, the hungry and the thirsty, the disabled, the widow, the  blind beggar, and the confounded, he sought out to save.  Luke’s Gospel, perhaps, more than any other teach us of Jesus’ ministry to children, to women, to Samaritans, to sinners and tax collectors – the outcasts of Jewish society.  

Let’s look at two examples, briefly – In Luke 5:27-32, Jesus calls Levi, one of these outcasts to be one of His disciples.  Levi was a tax collector, a traitor according to the Judaism of the day.  Levi follows Jesus, and celebrates – he invites a whole host of sinners and tax collectors over to his house for a barbeque with Jesus.  The Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at this and asked His disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” “And Jesus answered them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.’”  Later, after calling and saving another tax collector, Zacchaeus, Jesus makes this resounding statement, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham.  For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” Luke 19:9-10.  Jesus came to be the Savior of the outcast sinner.  This brings us to our next point.  

Jesus was bound for Jerusalem from birth.  There is something very different between my birth or your birth, and the birth of Jesus Christ.  Jesus’ birth was a sending.  He was born on mission.  He came to seek and to save the lost.  He was born bound for Jerusalem.  As a child, the true Temple was dedicated at the temple in Jerusalem (Luke 2:22).  A man named Simeon identified Him as the salvation of God in Jerusalem (Luke 2:29-32).  When His parents lose Him during and after the Feast of Passover, where do they find Him three days later?  In the temple sitting amongst the teachers and confounding them – in Jerusalem (Luke 2:41-52).  It is in Jerusalem that He overcomes the devil’s temptations (Luke 4).  In His transfiguration, Luke tells us that Moses and Elijah were speaking of His departure – where does Luke say this was to be accomplished but Jerusalem!  And Luke tells us in 9:51, that “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.”  In 13:22, Luke writes, “He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem.”  

Why Jerusalem?  Jesus tells us in Luke 13:33, “I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, (why?) for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.”  Jesus was always bound for Jerusalem because He was always bound for a cross.  Throughout Luke, one thing is clear about Jesus – He has an insatiable desire to live and die and rise and ascend in Jerusalem for you and for me.  Eager to accomplish salvation, to finish His work, Jesus drives Himself to the cross, where for our sake God made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we – the outcast sinner – might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor 5:21). 

Jesus is the son of Adam.  Now I mentioned that it was important for us to understand how it was that Luke, a Gentile, became a disciple of the Jewish Messiah.  The Bible gives us two genealogies of Jesus, one in Matthew and another in Luke.  Matthew’s genealogy purposefully goes back to Abraham (Christ the seed of Abraham) – his audience is predominantly Jewish.  But Luke goes back farther – he traces the line of Christ back to Adam, the father of all nations.  Salvation is not restricted to Israel.  Salvation is and has always been for believers of all nations of every tribe, and tongue.  In the temple, Simeon took the infant Jesus, lifted Him up in his arms and said, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel” Luke 2:29-32.  John the Baptist prepares His way by saying, “all flesh shall see the salvation of God” Luke 3:6.  Luke is spattered with instances where Jesus ministers to foreigners, and is highly concentrated on His ministry to the Samaritans.  In Luke 13, Jesus says speaking to the Pharisees, “(you will) see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out.  And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God” vv.28-29.  

At the cross, Jesus died for Israeli’s, but He also died for believers of all the nations.  This is what it means for him to be the son of Adam.  The Messiah came through Abraham’s line, and He died for Adam’s.  See yourselves at His cross, brothers, and wonder in amazement.  At the cross, Jesus died without thoughts of racism, or patriotism; without regard for economics or even the degree of sinner that you may be – Jesus died for sinners; Jesus came to seek and to save the lost from all nations.  At the cross, human works, law-keeping, and circumcision fall by the wayside woefully short of Christ’s accomplishments, and there is only Jesus, the sinless sin-bearer, the perfect law keeper – now all who believe on Him apart from works may be saved, both Jew and Gentile.  This is how we have a Luke, a Gentile evangelist.  This is how any of us have the opportunity to be saved.

Subgoal #3 – “How does or how should Luke’s Gospel about this Jesus impact us right now and for eternity?”

A few brief implications: 

First implication: Luke’s Gospel calls us to get Jesus right, to be certain about the Gospel. Getting Jesus right matters – what we do with Jesus matters – both to God and us, for His glory and our good – no one can be saved apart from faith in the biblical Jesus.

Second implication: Luke’s Gospel calls us to enjoy God supremely.  We must be God-treasurers in everything that we do.  Christ is seeking to make God lovers out of we who were once or are still God haters.  

Third implication (esp. for believers)Luke’s Gospel calls believers to joyful evangelism to the nations.  Those who have embraced this Jesus have been given a heart of evangelism and, like Luke, must let it out without distinction.  Our call is to the nations.  The reality of this salvation compels us to enjoy God and enjoy making Him known in Christ.

Fourth implication: Luke’s Gospel calls us to account before God.  Hearing the Gospel increases our accountability to God.  We are already accountable, without excuse prior to the Gospel, but what we do with the Gospel – what you are doing with the Gospel right now – determines whether the Gospel is coming to you as judgment  (see parables on this idea of the Word being judgment) – or salvation. 

Fifth implication (esp. to the unbeliever): Luke’s Gospel calls you to repentance towards God and faith in Christ right where you sit. We have to go back, before we can go forward – Let’s summarize again what we have seen in point 4 above – Jesus was bound for Jerusalem from birth.  Luke’s message of the Gospel is clear:  Jesus is the Savior of all believers from all nations.   Born of a virgin, lived a sinless life despite the highest degree of temptation to fall; in His Word and work, revealed God to us; died for Adam’s line on a tree, cursed of God in our place; was raised to life in vindication of His perfect holiness (being sinless, sin could not hold Him in death); and ascended to the throne of His magisterial reign as Savior, Lord, and King at the right hand of the Father, triumphant over His and our enemies; then, Luke attests that we must repent (see Luke 13:1-5) and cry out to God in faith for mercy (Luke 18); by this faith in God’s means of propitiation (appeasement of wrath), namely, Jesus Christ, we receive both grace, mercy, and Christ’s perfect righteousness.  In this, we are reconciled to God, we are saved.  Luke’s Gospel beckons the nations to be so moved. 

Advertisements

One Response

  1. well done my friend. its neat to see the fruits of your study. remember freshman year at clemson how we had really just started diving into the depths of scripture? hard to believe that was over 8 years ago. im excited to see what God is doing and going to do through you! i didnt realize you ended up going to the DG conference. I read your notes on it and watched some of the video. sounds like it was a rich time. i will call soon to catch up. study hard!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: