Two Sundays ago I began a twelve-week series in the Gospel of Luke at Glory of Christ Fellowship. In that message, I mentioned seven themes in Luke that make his Gospel noteworthy and unique. The themes are as follows:
1. Luke’s Gospel is the most comprehensive. It begins with the announcement of the birth of John the Baptist and it ends with the ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven. Furthermore, almost half of the material in Luke is not found in the other three gospels. So Luke is a detailed man who wants to tell the story of Jesus in as much fullness as he can.
2. Luke’s Gospel deals with Gentiles and puts them in a good light more than any other Gospel which is not surprising since he himself was a Gentile and a companion of Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles.
3. Luke’s Gospel is more concerned with those who had relatively little power in his society, specifically, women, children, and social outcasts. For example, whereas Matthew says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” Luke simply says, “Blessed are the poor.” And if you’ll pay attention, from the very outset Luke seeks to draw our attention to the fact that God is drawn to the least of these.
4. Luke’s Gospel emphasizes prayer more than any other Gospel, and particularly the prayer life of Jesus. This is a theme he carries through the book of Acts and so for the coming year I hope that we’ll learn much about the place of prayer in the life of those who love and follow Jesus.
5. Luke’s Gospel mentions angels and demons more than any other Gospel, another theme which is continued into the book of Acts and that has caused some to think he had a hand in the writing of Hebrews. I doubt that, but I understand the point.
6. Luke’s Gospel mentions the Holy Spirit more than any other Gospel, in fact, he mentions the Holy Spirit more than all of the other three Gospels combined. Luke is very interested in drawing our attention to the work of the Spirit in the life of Jesus, of individual Christians, and of the church.
7. Finally, Luke’s Gospel emphasizes preaching the “good news” more than the other Gospels, and again this makes sense in light of the fact that he also wrote Acts and was concerned about the spread of the message of Jesus and not just the life and times of Jesus.
It is important to note that in emphasizing these seven things, Luke is trying to help us build a way of life in Christ. For example, he emphasizes the poor because he wants us to be like Jesus and love the poor. He doesn’t see them as a subject to be considered, but a group of people to be humanized, pursued, and loved.
So, one way to benefit from the Gospel of Luke, and my sermon series, is to answer three questions week by week, section by section--but fair warning, it will take a lot of work! If you're up for the challenge, here are the three questions:
1. Where do you see the seven themes of Luke in this section of his Gospel (comprehensiveness, focus on the Gentiles, the poor, prayer, angels and demons, the Holy Spirit, and the proclamation of the Gospel)?
2. How does this help you understand the purposes of the Gospel of Luke?
3. How does this help you shape a way of life in Christ?
If you're up for this challenge, I would suggest that you create a document. Number each of the themes and then list the ways you see them highlighted in each week's section. After that, take some time to answer questions 2 and 3, and pray that God will grant you the grace to apply what he has taught you.
This week's section is Luke 3:1-4:13, the ministry of John the Baptist, the Genealogy of Jesus, and the temptation of Jesus. You can see all of the sections of this series on our Luke Series page which you can access here.
I pray that some of you will take the challenge and grow greatly in Christ. If you do, please let me know how the Lord uses this in your life and what insights you gain into Luke.