What follows is a little composition that I wrote for school today. I’ve always loved the Gospel of Luke, mostly because of its anally chronological and detailed nature. In giving this account deeper consideration, however, I have come to see that Luke offers a lot more than just a reliable timeline. To my knowledge, he was the only Gentile author in the entire New Testament. He saw something in this Jewish Messiah, this light that burned for all the nations. It changed him, made him part of a long and lasting faith-tradition, both within and without Judaism. This Jewish Messiah? He was not just for the Jews.
Week Three Discussion Question: Choose one of the Gospels, using Blomberg’s analysis summarize that particular Gospel’s portrait of Jesus and the important features of this Gospel. What should we learn from this portrait of Jesus and from the important features of this Gospel?
* * * * * * * *
In Genesis 12, the Lord tells Abram to get out of his native city and travel to an unknown land that would be revealed in His timing. This startling command was not without promises of blessing, however, and couched within those promises is this key statement: “. . .all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” 1 The story that follows is generally familiar to Jewish and Christian people alike; what may not be so familiar is the deep significance of the idea “all peoples.”
This is the main thrust of the Luke’s Gospel. Luke, as a Gentile, provides a unique “outsider” portrait of Jesus. He “attaches. . .Jesus’ career [to] the events of secular history. . .Jesus is a ‘light. . .to the Gentiles’. . .” 2 Differing from Mark and Matthew, who each placed Jesus’ genealogy specifically within a Jewish context, Luke’s genealogy reaches back “to Adam, father of the whole human race, and ultimately to God Himself.” 3 Not only does Luke draw a portrait of Jesus as the Gentile Savior, he also pays special attention to Jesus’ interactions with social outcasts and with women. 4 This is the infinitely relatable Jesus, still the God-Man, but a God and a Man who will reach out to anyone.
While John’s Gospel is particularly concerned with establishing the divinity of Jesus, 5 Luke’s emphasis lies in Jesus’ as a human, again “in His association with and compassion for numerous categories of social outcasts.” 6 Only Luke records the parable of the Good Samaritan; pays particular attention to Jesus interacting with tax collectors (collaborators with Roman oppressors) and sinners (those who definitely thumbed their noses at Jewish laws and conventions); discusses Jesus’ numerous encounters with women; shows Jesus’ concern for the poor and oppressed. 7 (This doesn’t mean that the other Gospel authors were unconcerned with these aspects of Jesus’ life, but only that Luke was inspired to write the story of Jesus from this angle). Other unique emphases in Luke’s Gospel are found in Jesus as Savior, prophet and teacher of parables. 8
From this special portrait of Jesus flow several dominate themes. Linked to Jesus’ concern for the poor comes teaching on proper stewardship of material goods. 9 The role of the Holy Spirit in enabling believers for such righteous living becomes a major factor 10. From this comes teaching on “the Holy Spirit[‘s] empower[ment] of Jesus and His followers. . .[for] prayer. . .joy. . .[and] God’s wooing us back to Himself [through] repentance and conversion.” 11 Perhaps most crucial for believers today in Luke’s record of early Christian history 12 is his concern with showing Jesus’ as the fulfillment of all Messianic hope within Judaism; therefore, a “law-free Christianity was the desired goal to which God was ultimately guiding first-century events,” 13 thus rendering the ritual laws of Old Testament worship null and void. (It is important to note, however, that “Jesus. . .excerpts some Old Testament laws, giving them new applicability. . .redefining them in terms of love for neighbor rather than simply as prohibitions to be ‘kept’.” 14 Thus, the ethical laws of the Old Covenant are carried over into the New.)
What is to be gleaned from all this? Perhaps Luke himself sums it up best in this opening question of one of Jesus’ parables: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?” 15 While this verse has meaning on many levels, its greatest applicability for today’s believers lies in the idea of the Gentile world being that lost sheep. Though Jesus came and lived in a Jewish context, He did not turn a blind eye to all others. His salvation was (and is) available to everyone who places belief in and stands upon His grace.
1 Gen. 12:3b.
2 Gundry, Robert H. A Survey of the New Testament. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003), 210.
3 Ibid, 210.
4 Ibid, 210.
5 Blomberg, Craig L. Jesus and the Gospels: an Introduction and Survey. (Nasvhille: B&H Publishing, 2009), 186.
6 Ibid, 163.
7 Ibid, 164-165.
8 Ibid, 165.
9 Ibid, 166.
10 Ibid, 169.
11 Ibid, 169-170.
12 Ibid, 167.
13 Ibid, 168.
14 Fee, Gordon D. and Douglas Stuart. How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003),168.
15 Lk. 15:4.