THE GOSPEL OF LUKE
Luke is the writer of the third gospel. In Colossians 4:14, he is referred to by Paul as Luke, the beloved physician. He was of Jewish ancestry but as someone has said, his correct Greek marks him as a Jew of the dispersion. Tradition says he was born in Antioch.The date of the Gospel of Luke falls between A.D. 63 and 68.The key-phrase of Luke is Son of Man and the key-verse is Ch. 19:10, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke’s genealogy of Christ is traced to Adam through His mother Mary, who was also a descendant of the house of David through his son Nathan, Ch. 3:31. In v. 23, we read that Joseph was the son of Hili, but in reality he was his son-in-law. Such usage was not uncommon among the Hebrew people, see I Sam. 24:16. The human side of the ministry of Christ is more noticeable in Luke’s Gospel, but he was also careful to guard His Deity and Kingship, see Ch. 1:32-35.
The events recorded in this Gospel cover a period of some 39 years.
There are seven divisions to the Gospel of Luke:
1. Ch. 1:1-4. The Evangelists introduction.
2. Ch. 1:5 to Ch. 2. The birth and boyhood of Jesus.
3. Ch. 3:1 to 4:13. The baptism, ancestry, and testing of Jesus.
4. Ch. 4:14 to 9:50. The ministry of the Son of man in Galilee.
5. Chs. 9:51 to 19:27. The journey of the Son of man from Galilee to Jerusalem.
6. Chs. 19:28 to 23:56. The final offer of the Son of man as King to Israel, His rejection and sacrifice.
7. Chapter 24. The resurrection, resurrection ministry, and ascension of the Son of man.
THE EVANGELISTS INTRODUCTION.
Theophilis, to whom Luke addressed his Gospel, is thought to be one of Paul’s converts from paganism. He was evidently a person of rank because of the title, most excellent, which was used in addressing him. While Luke was well informed by those who had companied with Jesus, he was made doubly certain of the things of which he wrote because of the revelation God had given him. In Ch. 1:3 when he says he had perfect understanding from the very first, in the original it means from above, therefore, he was well qualified to write.
THE BIRTH AND BOYHOOD OF JESUS.
The circumstances surrounding the birth of Jesus are somewhat interwoven with those relating to the birth of John the Baptist. A certain priest named Zacharias was one day ministering in the temple when an angel of the Lord appeared to him. The message he brought was that a son would be born to his wife Elizabeth whose name should be called John. As the couple were well advanced in years, it was difficult for Zacharias to credit the statement. For his unbelief he was made dumb until the eighth day after the child was born, and the time came for him to be circumcised. The neighbors wanted to name him, and when his mother insisted his name should be called John they raised an objection. Then Zacharias wrote the name on a tablet and immediately his tongue was loosed and he broke forth in prophecy.
It was the angel Gabriel who visited the father of John. A little later he was sent forth to speak to a virgin, whose name was Mary, to tell her that she was chosen of God to become the mother of His only begotten Son. Mary did not doubt the possibility of such a miracle, and gave praise to God for the honor conferred upon her, Ch. 1:37-38, and 46-55.
The circumstances immediately surrounding the birth of Jesus are as follows: due to an order by Caesar Augustus, all the world, (the known world ruled by Rome), must be taxed. Every man journeyed to his place of birth for that purpose. Joseph, to whom Mary was espoused, went to Bethlehem of Judea and took her with him. During their stay, Jesus was born. It took place in a stable, for due to an overcrowded condition there was no room in the inn, Ch. 2:1-7.
Some shepherds of those parts were startled one night about that time by a visit from an angel who brought them the strange good news of the birth of Jesus. He call Him a Savior, which is Christ the Lord, v.8-11. The shepherds started off to Bethlehem to find the child. It is quite significant how these men showed their faith. They said,” Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing, which is come to pass.” Had they said, “to see if” they would have been unbelieving as was Zacharias.
Eight days after the birth of Christ, He was circumcised and named Jesus as was commanded by the angel, Ch. 1:31. Some weeks later an old man named Simeon was led of the Spirit to go to the temple when the child Jesus was being presented to the Lord. God had promised him that he should not die until he had seen the Lord’s Christ.
Taking the babe in his arms he spoke forth in prophecy, thanking God first of all because such a privilege had been granted him. Then turning to Mary, he told her that her child would be for a sign spoken against, and that a sword would pierce her own soul also, referring no doubt to the coming crucifixion of the Lord Jesus. While Simeon was speaking an aged woman named Anna, who had been a widow many years, also came into the temple. She gave thanks to the Lord and told all of like mind of the wonderful visitation which had come from God. Thus a number of remarkable evidences were given from above to attest the facts connected with His first coming as the only begotten Son of God.
A reference to the childhood of Jesus is also contained in Ch.2. When He was twelve years of age He was left in Jerusalem in a mistake by His parents. As they journeyed homeward from the feast of the Passover, they thought the boy was along, probably traveling with other boys of his own age, as could have easily been expected. When night came He could not be found. The parents hurried back to Jerusalem, and after three days search found Him in the temple engaged in deep discussion with the doctors of the law, who were astonished at His understanding and answers. While Jesus expressed surprise at His parents that they should misunderstand His devotion to His Fathers business, He nevertheless went quietly with them, and led a life of sweet submission in His home in Nazareth, vs.41-52.
THE BAPTISM, ANCESTRY, AND TESTING OF JESUS.
In due time, John the Baptist appeared in public and engaged in his ministry of turning people to repentance as was foretold of him by the prophet Isaiah. Because of his fearless rebuke of Herod he was put into prison, and later laid down his life, Ch.3:19-20. As John was baptizing many people in the river Jordan, Jesus came to him and was also baptized. Then heaven opened, and the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, “Thou art My beloved Son; in Thee I am well pleased.”
Following the incident of Christ’s baptism, we have the record of His ancestry traced back to Adam. Thus we are reminded that He was truly the Son of man. After He received the Holy Ghost, Jesus was led of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil, Ch.4:1-2.
THE MINISTRY OF THE SON OF MAN IN GALILEE.
While such an experience was painful in the extreme the Lord came through the temptation in victory, for it is said in v.14, that “He returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee”, and began His remarkable ministry. Luke records this and devotes practically six chapters to what happened in that part of the country. The opening message was an introduction, as Jesus attended a meeting in the synagogue on the Sabbath day, Ch.4:16. He stood up to read and asked the minister for the prophecy of Isaiah. When Isaiah was handed to Him, He turned to Isaiah 61 and read verse one and part of verse two, stopping at a comma, as the truth for His day ended there. When the Lord claimed to be the One in Whom the scripture was fulfilled, His hearers were quite indignant that He who was just one of their local men should dare call Himself the Anointed One, v.22. They were still more provoked when Jesus began to expose their lack of faith, so that God could not manifest His power among them as He desired. The balance of Ch.4 records the deliverance of a man with an unclean spirit, and the healing of Peter’s wife’s mother.
Christ’s busy life of preaching, and healing, and performing miracles is well illustrated in Ch. 5. A miraculous catch of fishes was given to Peter and his fellow fisherman with the promise that henceforth they should catch men, and from then on they left all and followed Jesus. A leper appealed to the Lord and was granted immediate cleansing. Then a paralyzed man was carried in a bed by four friends, and Jesus seeing their faith both forgave his sins and healed his body. The chapter closes with a parable about the folly of taking a piece out of a new garment in order to patch an old one. Many people do that today as they try to serve Christ on the one hand, and the world on the other hand, but they always fail.
Chapter 6 teaches how Jesus excused His disciples for plucking some corn and eating it on the Sabbath day. He quoted David who ate the Shewbread and gave to others with him, when it was not lawful to so do. God did not hold it against him, and the people thought none the less of him, and Jesus showed how He, the Son of man, is Lord also of the Sabbath, vs.1-5. In this chapter we also have Luke’s version of the Beatitudes, and the parable of the house built upon the rock. Chapters 7 and 8 contain incidents of the general ministry of Christ ending with the raising to life of the daughter of Jairus.
The Lord called His twelve disciples to Him “and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases, and sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.” After the transfiguration mentioned in Ch. 9:27-36, Jesus began to draw His ministry in Galilee to a close.
THE JOURNEY OF THE SON OF MAN FROM GALILEE TO JERUSALEM.
The disciples of Christ had much to learn. As the Lord turned His face toward Jerusalem He sought entertainment in a certain village in Samaria. Because the people acted somewhat different about receiving Him, James and John suggested that they call down fire from heaven and consume them as Elijah did. They learned that Gospel ministry is far different, and that Christ had come to save rather than to destroy, Ch. 9:51-56. In Ch. 10, we read how Jesus increased His helpers and sent forth seventy more, vs.1-9. They were given the same power as the twelve, and returned with a glowing report of how the devils were subject unto them through His name. To help steady them, the Lord suggested that they rejoice not in success in service, but that their names were written in heaven, vs. 17-20.
The well know parable of the good Samaritan gives us the sentiment of the Gospel, how that the sin-sick of this world can be helped in a way that the Law never could undertake for them. Martha and Mary are also mentioned in this chapter, and through them we get the searching lesson of the greater good there is in sitting at the feet of Jesus when He chooses to call us aside for a time of fellowship, rather than in bustling around in some self-imposed task for Him.
A lesson on prayer is given in Ch. 11. Two things are needful, first that we approach God in the right spirit, and second that we determine to get the answer though it would appear as though God seems to delay, vs. 1-3. Some more of the general ministry of Christ is recorded in the chapters, which follow.
A woman greatly bent over was loosed by Him after she had been tormented by Satan for eighteen years, Ch. 13:10-27. It is very suggestive that as Jesus informed her that she was loosed even before there was any manifestation of the same, so people are loosed by Christ even though they fail to experience it.
Ch. 15 contains the parable of the prodigal son. Three prominent characters teach us a lasting lesson. The father shows forth the love of God the returned prodigal reminds us that Jesus came to call sinners to repentance; and the elder brother illustrates how some believers fail to appropriate what is always at hand, as they are ever with their Father Who gives them all things richly to enjoy. In Ch. 16, we have the parable of the unjust steward, vs.1-13. From this we learn the importance of spending our lives for the salvation of others, that when our time comes to leave this earth we shall have many who shall receive us into everlasting habitations. In vs. 19-31, we read how Jesus lifted the veil of the future life, and by quoting the circumstances of the rich man and Lazarus showed how there is torment for those who live only for themselves in this life. On the other hand, those who believe in the Lord, though their path maybe thorny down here on earth, they shall enter into wonderful bliss after they leave this world.
The healing of the ten lepers and the return of the one to give thanks, Ch. 17:11-19, called forth a word of surprise from Jesus that the nine had made no such response. Even in such things god is quick to notice and appreciates our thanksgivings as well as our prayers. The Lord in vs. 22-37, makes a reference to His second coming. He said that He must first suffer many things and be rejected. Then in the time of the end conditions of life will be repeated as were in the days of Noah and Lot. Finally two men shall be in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding together, and one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field, one shall be taken, and the other left. The disciples asked, “Where, Lord?” and all He replied was, “Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.” Jesus told them all they were to know at that time for the day for the fuller revelation was not yet due.
THE FINAL OFFER OF THE SON OF MAN AS KING TO ISRAEL, HIS REJECTION AND SACRIFICE.
In Ch. 19:41-44 Jesus gave His final word concerning Jerusalem. He had made His memorable entry upon the colt, but was criticized by the Pharisees because of the rejoicing of the disciples. Then followed the great denunciation in which the Lord foretells how Jerusalem should be besieged and eventually the city would lay even with the ground.
Ch. 20, is taken up largely with the words of dispute by which the Scribes, and Pharisees, and the Sadducees sought to overthrow Christ’s ministry.
In Ch. 21, we have Luke’s version of the signs of the end. Jesus made the statement that the temple would be so completely demolished that not one stone would be left upon another, v.6. In the siege of Titus, A.D. 70 the temple caught fire. Its gold melted and trickled in between the stones. The Roman soldiers pried them apart to obtain the precious metal, and thus the prediction was fulfilled. In v.7, we have the disciples threefold question the same as in Matthew 24. The course of this age is shown in vs. 8-19. Then in vs. 20-24, Jesus spoke specifically of the siege of Jerusalem to be accomplished in that day, and showed how the city would afterwards be trodden down by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles should be fulfilled. Such has been the state of Israel until within recent years. Jerusalem was freed from Turkish rule and came under the mandatory rule of Great Britain. Now Israel is once more a nation and prophecy is being fulfilled.
Certain conditions, which shall characterize the last days, are mentioned in vs. 25-28. When we see signs of such we may look up, for our redemption will then be near at hand. A word of warning is given in vs. 34-36. We must beware of being overcharged with either pleasures or cares of this life lest that day come upon us unawares, and we fail to escape the things which shall come upon the earth, but rather let us strive to be worthy to stand before the Son of man.
Chs. 22 & 23, give us similar facts of the last few days of Christ before Calvary as are stated in the other Gospels. He gathered His disciples for the last Passover supper, and then instituted the new supper, which we call the Lords Supper. Jesus announced His betrayal and then sought to show His followers that true greatness consists in serving others. They finally made their way to the Garden of Gethsemane and after the prayer-struggle of Christ, Judas came along and betrayed Him into the hands of the band of men sent by the priesthood. Peter drew a sword and cut off a man’s ear, but Jesus asked permission and healed the man, Ch.22:51. Following the arrest, Peter denied Christ but wept bitterly for his act of weakness in that trying moment. After being buffeted, Jesus was taken before the Sanhedrin to be tried. Later they took Him to Pilate who finally was persuaded to give sentence that He be crucified, Ch. 23:24. The crucifixion took place in a very short time and He was hung between two thieves. As one reviled Him the other cried for mercy, and although Christ’s agony was exceeding great, He listened to the plea and granted salvation in the eleventh hour. Just before His death, Jesus commended Himself into the hands of the Father and gave up the ghost. Being buried hurriedly because of the approaching feast of the Passover, His body was laid away in a temporary manner, and the women of His group prepared spices and ointments for use after the Sabbath day.
THE RESURRECTION, RESURRECTION MINISTRY, AND ASCENSION OF THE SON OF MAN.
Very early in the morning of the first day of the week, the women went to the sepulcher with the spices they had prepared, expecting to carry out the usual rites of the day for their dead friend, Christ Jesus, Ch.24:1. Imagine their surprise to find the stone rolled away and the grave empty. Two angels broke the news that He was not there but had risen as He formerly told them, and it says, they remembered His words. As the women broke the good news to the others, it says “their words seemed to be as idle tales, and they believed them not.” Then Peter went to the grave and saw how things were and wondered in himself at what had come to pass, vs. 11-12. Still others were filled with astonishment.
Two disciples were journeying to Emmaus and Jesus joined their company. He appeared to wonder why they were so sad, and finally revealed to them that the things, which had happened, were according to the scriptures. Then He entered their home, broke bread with them, and as they recognized their Lord, He suddenly vanished from their sight. The two disciples hurried back to Jerusalem with the good news, vs. 33-35.
While the group was gathered together, Jesus appeared in their midst, ate in their presence, and then opened up their understanding in the scriptures. The Lord then commissioned the disciples to be His witnesses, but enjoined upon them the great importance of being first endued with power from on high, v.49. He then led them out as far as to Bethany and was suddenly parted from them and carried up into Heaven. The disciples were filled with joy, and returned to Jerusalem and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God.