Luke’s Gospel

Bob Berry, Amersham

'And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross', Phil. 2. 8.

Luke's gospel is a treatise of all that the Lord both began to do and teach, Acts 1. 1. The order is instructive; example coming before teaching. Accordingly the first part of the book is the Lord's miracles interspersed with teachings, and the second part His teachings interspersed with miracles. The dividing point is 10, 24, 'For 1 tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them'. Works and words, pomegranates and bells, are in perfect balance.

The Last Adam
Luke sets forth the last Adam, the second man. Companion scriptures are Genesis 1-3, Psalm 8, Romans 5, 1 Corinthians 15 and Hebrews 2-5. Here is the man who does not yield to the wilderness temptations as Adam did in the garden - the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life; and here we find the life; and here we find man brought back into Paradise. Here is one being strengthened by an angel - for He was made a little lower than the angels. We read of a man in Adam who built his house upon the earth. Not only do we read of the resurrection of the Lord, but of the widow of Nain's son and of Jarius's daughter. We see not yet all things put under Him; and yet Peter falls at His knees, the demoniac and the woman with an issue of blood fall down before Him, a Samaritan leper falls at His feet; the very creation is subject to Him, whether fishes, unbroken colt or cockerel. Here is the One who being in an agony offers up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears; who is obedient not only to Joseph and His mother, but unto death, even the death of the cross.

The Great High Priest
Not only the man, but the One who is now our Great High Priest is set forth by Luke. Everything about the book is priestly: the book opens and closes with the temple; here we see the prayer life of the Lord; here are the praises of men and women, 'they glorified God'; 'she glorified God'; 'gave praise to God'. Companion scriptures are Exodus and Hebrews, among others.

The Lord is seen in this book as standing, as befitted His priestly ministry; not that He was a priest on earth, Heb. 8. 4, but that He acted in a priestly way.

Luke contrasts people, from Zacharias and Mary at the beginning to the two malefactors at the end; and much can be gained from a study of these character portraits.

Righteousness and Forgiveness
The order, 1. 3, in Luke is not chronological, but moral. That is, events and teachings are so laid out as to develop moral truth in an orderly way. Hence the temptations of chapter 4 are not in their chronological order but in the moral order of 1 John 2. 16. In chapter 18 we are introduced to a self-righteous Pharisee and a contrite publican. Contrary to men's expectations it is the latter who is justified. Then the disciples would refuse the children, but the Lord receives them - for of such is the kingdom of God, despite that they were too young to have done works of righteousness. The ruler was certainly old enough, and upright, but the disciples wonder who can be saved when they learn that his righteousness is not enough. But then the Lord blesses a beggar in response to his faith, though men had rebuked him. Thus it is shown that the Law cannot save, but all - respected or despised, rich or poor - must come by faith. The rich man is impeded by his riches from entering the kingdom; the beggar has no such impediment, but begs only for mercy. But it was not that rich men could not enter, for now we see Zaccheus, despised, rich, and yet the recipient of salvation: but see how he uses his wealth. Works cannot save, but true works follow salvation, and evidence faith, Eph. 2. 8.

What lovely examples of contrition are found in this gospel of forgiveness. The woman in chapter 7 washes the Lord's feet with her tears, oblivious to the hard thoughts of others present; the prodigal son in chapter 15 makes no claims to any rights or privileges, but asks only to be made as a hired servant; the publican in chapter 18 would not lift up so much as his eyes to heaven, but smites his breast and cries for mercy; Peter in chapter 22 goes out and weeps bitterly; the malefactor in chapter 23 confesses his guilt, but the Lord's righteousness.

The meal offering and the peace offering are here, and many other themes besides are woven into this interesting book.