Many people have already applied themselves to the task of compiling an account of the events that have been fulfilled among us. They used what the original eyewitnesses and servants of the word handed down to us. Now, after having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, I have also decided to write a carefully ordered account for you, most noble Theophilus. I want you to have confidence in the soundness of the instruction you have received. (Luke 1.1-4 CEB)
If you know me very well at all you’ve likely heard me say it many times: Luke’s Gospel is my favorite book in the Bible. I suppose there are a dozen different reasons, not the least of which is the fact many of the themes of Christ’s gospel that I seem to be attracted to the most appear, judging by how frequently he brings them up, to be Luke’s favorites as well. For example, the cup of Luke’s Gospel overflows with thoughts regarding:
- The good news of Christ is for everyone, no exceptions.
- How every individual is significant in God’s eyes.
- The way there is plenty of room in God’s kingdom’s for those easily overlooked in our culture and society – women, children, the poor, the socially-unacceptable, the fallen, etc.
- The way the Spirit of God is constantly moving among and working on the lives of people.
- How long-standing social barriers are broken down and lives full of deep commitment to Christ are built up.
- The fact God has a plan and purpose to work in this world that involves the lives of all and results in great joy and meaning in life, come what may.
I could go on and on, but there is one reason in particular this Gospel speaks so powerfully to me and that reason actually has little to do with this book’s content, but much to do with its human author, Luke himself. You see, though we can’t say with absolute certainty that Luke is the only Gentile author of any portion of the New Testament, all of the evidence we have points that direction. And Luke not only comes from an entirely different background than the rest of the New Testament writers, he also comes from a different place altogether.
What I mean by that is that unlike other authors such as Matthew, Peter, John, James, etc., Luke never laid his eyes on Jesus, much less got to spend a significant amount of time with him. Even the apostle Paul met Jesus in his wondrous encounter on the Damascus road, but Luke had no such advantage.
Since Luke wasn’t an eyewitness of Jesus, his faith wasn’t based on someone he had personally seen or heard. His faith was, well, even more about “faith.” He believed and came to share his belief with others because he had come to faith completely by faith. His curiosity, conscience, and convictions drove him to deeply research Jesus and his people and he emerged from his investigations believing.
And that’s precisely where all of us find ourselves today, isn’t it? We are now as Luke once was, which gives the lie to our excuses “If I could have seen what the apostles saw, etc., well then, perhaps I could believe, but you see, I am at a disadvantage and there is no way around it.” No, we cannot see Jesus, walk with Jesus, eat with Jesus, listen to Jesus, witness the miracles performed by Jesus, etc. We, just like Luke, simply encounter the story of Jesus and then choose whether to believe it or not. To decide on the basis of something completely beyond the basis of our physical senses, whether Jesus even existed and is worthy of our further consideration.
I find it quite powerful that the author chosen by God to write more than any other author of the New Testament began at something akin to the same starting point all of us start at today. Here is a story we not only find intriguing, but find is authored by one with whom we can readily identify. And this one, having readily researched all that he could, believed.
Father in heaven, I thank you for the labor and diligence, love and faith of others who you have used to make it possible for us today to simply know about Jesus Christ. May I never take them or what you have worked through them for granted. Rather, Father, may I become like them, believing and sharing, becoming one with the message and You. In the name of Christ I pray. Amen.