TODAY’S READING: LUKE 1-3
OVERVIEW: The introduction of Theophilus (1:1-4); the conception of John the Baptist in Elisabeth, wife of Zacharias (1:5-25); the conception of Jesus in Mary (1:26-38); Mary and Elisabeth’s meeting (1:39-56); the birth of John the Baptist (1:57-66); the prophecy of Zacharias (1:67-80); Christ, the baby (2:1-20); Christ, the child (2:21-28); Christ, the youth (2:39-52); the testimony of John the Baptist concerning Christ (3:1-20); the testimony of God the Father and the Spirit concerning Christ (3:21-38).
HIGHLIGHTS & INSIGHTS:
Today we move into the third of the four Gospels, the Gospel of Luke. Whereas Matthew was written to Jews to present Christ as King, and Mark was written to Gentiles (specifically Romans) to present Christ as a Servant, Luke was written to Greeks to present Christ as a Man.
To really understand God’s mindset through Luke in this Gospel, it is important to understand something about Greeks. I Corinthians 1:22 says that just as the Jews require a sign, the Greeks seek after wisdom. That is why historically, the Greeks are synonymous with “philosophy.” The word “philosophy” actually means the “love of wisdom” (philos = love; sophia = wisdom). The Greeks loved wisdom and were consumed with the desire to discover the real meaning of life and one’s morality. This entire Gospel is written from the vantage point of revealing to the Greeks the fact that Jesus Christ, God in human flesh, is the true meaning of life and the ultimate standard of morality. Interestingly, the name Luke means “light-giver” (much akin to the Hebrew name Lucifer, meaning “light-bearer”). The Gospel of “Luke” shines as a “light to lighten the Gentiles” (2:32). Because every generation has been mightily influenced by the philosophical mindset of the Greeks, this Gospel “gi!
ves” tremendous “light” to every generation.
Note to whom this Gospel was actually written: Luke writes in 1:3, “It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to thee in order, most excellent Theophilus.” Obviously, it was written to Theophilus (a Greek word meaning “lover of God”). Note also that the purpose for which Luke says he wrote this Gospel in 1:4, “That thou (Theophilus) mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.” Theophilus is obviously a believer. Back in 1:1, Luke talks about “those things which are most surely believed among US.” Luke says that because he “had perfect understanding of all things from the very first” (1:3), he wanted to write to Theophilus, to lay any questions or doubts in his mind to rest (“that thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou has been instructed” – 1:4). That is why you will find that this Gospel is given to facts, and is a much more detailed account of the !
life of our Lord. (See 1:5; 2:1-4; 3:1-2 in today’s reading for some great examples of Luke’s emphasis on facts!) This is, no doubt, why Luke is the longest of all four Gospels. (Though it doesn’t have as many chapters as Matthew, it has about 2,000 more words.) Note also in that same train of thought, that the Gospel of Luke is actually the first volume in a two-volume set. Note how the Book of Acts begins, “The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began to do and teach” (Acts 1:1).
But not only is Luke’s Gospel written to the Greeks, it is written to present Him as a man. That is why the phrase “Son of man” is found 26 times in this Book. It focuses our attention on Jesus’ humanity, and all through this Book, Luke’s account will highlight the human element of the Lord Jesus Christ. We will see Him weeping over those who rejected Him (19:41); touching the untouchable (5:13); being touched by the unthinkable (a prostitute) — (7:39); and seeking the lost (5:31-32; 9:56; 19:10). In fact, seven different times in this Book Jesus asks someone to follow Him.
Because this Gospel is written to present Christ as a man, it is also reflected in Luke’s record of His genealogy. Remember, Matthew is a Jewish Gospel, so His genealogy begins by identifying Christ with David, but runs His family line beginning with Abraham, the Father of the Nation of Israel. Luke, however, traces Christ’s genealogy through His “human” mother, but takes it back to Adam, the first “man” (Luke 3:38).
Though Luke presents Christ as 100% man, don’t fail to realize that at the same time, He is 100% God. This, of course, is a major hang-up for Jehovah’s False Witnesses. They like to throw out verses like Luke 2:40 in today’s reading as proof that Jesus wasn’t and couldn’t have been God. All they do, however, is prove that they don’t believe the Bible, and that they do not have the Spirit of God in them so they can even understand the Bible (I Cor. 2:14)! I Timothy 3:16 calls it the “mystery of godliness” (no wonder they can’t get it! Not because it is a “mystery,” but because it has to do with “godliness”!). “God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”