By Don Ruhl
Stories teach effectively, and the Holy Spirit used that teaching method. A physician in the first century wrote two huge stories. His first volume, we call The Gospel According to Luke. His second volume, we call The Book of Acts.
Luke’s name appears only three times in the New Testament (Col 4.14; 2Ti 4.11; Phm 24) and he was the only Gentile writer of Scripture of which we know.
Who wrote most of the New Testament? Paul wrote thirteen books. Luke wrote two. However, in the New King James Version, Paul’s letters account for 43,275 words. Whereas, Luke’s writings account for 49,133 words!
Luke told us why he wrote his Gospel account, “Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed” (Luke 1.1–4).
Who was Theophilus? He may have been a particular man or, since his name means God-lover, the name may represent everyone who loves God.
Luke began, not with the birth of Jesus, but with the birth of John the Baptizer. Similarities appear between the narratives of the births of both Jesus and John, such as the visitation by an angel. However, Zacharias and Mary responded differently to the words of the angel.
Luke shows his story rooted in history, “There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth” (Luke 1.5).
Then Luke showed Gabriel the angel speaking to the future father of John (Luke 1.13–17).
Announcing the Birth of the Christ
The same angel, Gabriel, appeared to a young woman, announcing the birth of the Christ, “Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, ‘Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!’” (Luke 1.26–28). How would you have responded?
Look at Mary’s response, “But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was” (Luke 1.29).
Gabriel told her that she would conceive and bring forth a son. However, she wondered how that was possible, “Then Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I do not know a man?’” (Luke 1.34).
Gabriel explained, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1.35). She was a virgin and logically questioned how she could bear a son.
Before moving on, note this. Most people equate the Virgin Birth with the Immaculate Conception. They are not the same. The Bible teaches the virgin birth of Jesus and the Catholic Church teaches the Immaculate Conception of Mary. The first one is true. The second one is false. The first one refers to the fact that Jesus was conceived without a man. The second one seeks to explain that Mary’s conception by her parents was without transference of original sin. The false doctrine of original sin—that Adam’s sin is passed on to every human, so that everyone is born in and with sin—led to another false doctrine to explain that Mary was not born in sin, for if she had been, she would have passed that on to Jesus, and we know He was sinless. One false teaching always leads to another false doctrine.
The Birth of Jesus
Luke placed the birth of Jesus in a historical context, “And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria” (Luke 2.1, 2).
Finally, “when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law” (Gal 4.4), “So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2.6, 7).
While Matthew highlighted the visitation of the wise men after they saw the star, Luke highlighted the visitation of shepherds after they heard an angel and the heavenly host announcing the birth of Jesus (Luke 2.8–20).
Earth has never been the same since.
Heading for Jerusalem
After showing the ministry of Jesus in the Galilee area (Luke 3–8), Luke then showed Jesus making His way toward Jerusalem (Luke 9–19). Even as Mark showed Jesus preparing for His crucifixion, so Luke showed the same thing. Jesus did not rush to Jerusalem, not because He feared death, but all things had to happen according to God’s plan. So, we see Jesus heading for Jerusalem, but doing and teaching many things along the way.
Luke’s Inclusion of Women
The Holy Spirit used Luke a Gentile, showing that the Gentiles have part in Christ. Then Luke used women to show they have part in Christ:
- Mary (Chapters 1, 2)
- Elizabeth (1)
- Anna (2)
- Widow of Nain (7)
- Sinful woman (7)
- Financial supporters (8)
- Martha and Mary (10)
- Mary Magdalene (8, 23, 24)
- Joana (8, 24)
- Other women (23, 24)
Jesus the Storyteller
Jesus used parables to teach eternal and spiritual truths. The Good Samaritan (10.25–37) and the Prodigal Son (15.11–32) have been regular parts of American speech. Luke recorded more parables than the other Gospel writers:
Luke – 28
Mark – 9
Most of the time Jesus gave parables in response to a question or an exchange with someone.