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Luke Overview

The Gospel of Luke  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Introduction

Opening Principle

There’s an old 19th century German phrase, Der Mensch ist, was er isst. More commonly known to you and me as “you are what you eat!”
In our day, we usually use the phrase as referring to food...
If you eat crappy food, you feel crappy
If you eat healthy food, you’ll be healthy
…but it’s origins are much less literal.
More metaphorically stated, we might understand the phrase to say “you think what you read!” Whether that’s Facebook, favorite news app, or a more literary work, your mind becomes what you feed it.

Principle Illustrated

I remember in 6th grade when I transitioned out of cub scouts and into Boy Scouts. It was such an exciting time. I’m feeling more grownup and eager to get started on my merit badges. And one of the first things we are given is the Boy Scout handbook.
Its filled with all kinds of information about scouting and camping and knifemanship, but our first assignment was to read and learn the
Scout Motto, the Scout Oath, and the Scout Law.
Scout Motto
Be prepared
the Scout Oath,
On my honor, I will do my best. To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight
and the Scout Law.
A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, an reverent.
You know, as a 6th grade boy, one, these were surprisingly hard to learn. and two, these sayings didn’t really mean much to me. As a 6th grade boy I didn’t really have helpfulness or cleanliness on my mind. But you know what?, as time went on and I continued to read and recite them, is that I began to embody them.
By the time I entered Highschool, and some of my friends are thinking its kind of weird, maybe a little nerdy that I’m still a Boy Scout, I actually took pride in being a Scout.
Reciting these became a part of who I was. I took pride in keeping myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight. You are what you eat.

Transition

Over these next few months as myself and a few other guys share your pulpit, we are excited to walk through Luke’s gospel with you. You see, Luke has written a work that ought to be eaten. It ought to be devoured. It’s a marvelous truth Luke has given us.
He wants you to know that Jesus came to save people from the entire world, forming them into a faithful people, and commissioning them to his global, redemptive mission.
And that when you read these words and you hear them preached, by God’s grace you might embody these words. Luke didn’t write simply to inform you about Jesus, but that you might be transformed to be like Jesus. He wants to ignite a spark within you that you might join with and take part in Jesus mission to proclaim the kingdom of God!
Without this transforming work… without the enlightenment that comes through the words of Christ… your mind will fill itself with ideas that dull your heart, close your ears, and blind your eyes to the only hope, the only salvation, and the only purpose that true in this life.
So listen in, fill your mind with these words, and pray that God might transform you into the likeness of his wonderful son, Jesus Christ, through the words of Luke’s gospel.
Pray now that God would be gracious to give us understanding of and love for his son, Jesus.

An Introduction to Luke’s Gospel

If you will, turn in your bibles to Luke chapter one and read the first four verses with me. introdroduction.
Luke 1:1–4 ESV
Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.
There are a number of things we should say about Luke’s gospel as we are kicking it off.

Lukan Authorship

We do believe it to be written by the companion and fellow laborer of Paul, Luke the beloved Physician as he is called in Col 4:14. if you are Nowhere in the gospel do we actually find Luke’s name, but based on the testimony of the early church we trust it to be true. And I believe as you read the gospel and also the book of Acts it becomes more certain Luke is in view.

It’s a Volume One

We also believe it to be volume one of a two volume series. Both volumes written by Luke and on behalf of the same man Theophilus. If you read the first two verses of Acts, you’ll see Luke and Acts piece together nicely.
Acts 1:1–2 ESV
In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen.
You might wonder why it’s split in two? Why do we have Luke alone. Why do we have Acts alone? Why’d we put John in between them!? Well we don’t know for sure, but it seems likely on account of the sheer size of the work. Together Luke-Acts is larger than all of Paul’s New Testament writings combined, making Luke the largest contributor to NT writing.
It’s a bit like my favorite work of Literature, J. R. R. Tolkien’s the Lord of the Rings. When he originally set ought to publish his work in the early 1950s, publishers were not willing to publish the story as one collective work largely because the expense and risk of producing a book that large. Today we know it as a trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. But no one of these books is complete in itself and they were never intended to be read apart from one another.
I believe Luke and Acts are the same way. To really understand what Luke is trying to do, to really understand why hes writing, you’ve got to read them together. Acts continues the same story. The Gospel of Luke finds its outworking in Acts.

Written to Theophilus

We believe it was written to a man named Theophilus. He was likely some sort of Roman official because Luke gives him the title “most excellent”, usually reserved for men of such rank. You’ll find that in Acts.
Theophilus may have been a Christian, maybe he wasn’t, he may have been seeking, maybe he wasn’t, maybe he was Luke’s patron, meaning he paid for Luke to have the materials and the time to write this Gospel, but maybe he wasn’t.
The reality is we can’t say much about the man. But he does likely represent a large group of people who are hearing things about Jesus and about his church who either aren’t fully convinced, or don’t fully know the whole story and need to know it.
Luke 1:4 ESV
that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.
The book is often dated to somewhere in the early 60s, so we are a mere 30 years after the death and Resurrection of Jesus. That’s like 1988. The story needs to be spread and told and preserved and that’s what Luke is doing. For the sake of the church and for the sake of those who might find salvation in Christ. Theophilus I want you to be certain about this message, I want you to know its true. I want you to cherish this Jesus the way that I do.

It is a Trustworthy Account

We also believe that it is a trustworthy account. It is an account of Jesus that ought to confirm for you the truth of his person and his mission. This isn’t something written by a non-expert. It’s the truth. The truth about the most incredible man to ever live. God himself, come to earth, to reveal himself to his people just 2,000 years ago. Three things to see here about its truthfulness...
Look back at verses three and four with me...
Luke 1:3–4 ESV
it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.
First, Luke thought it good to write this orderly account as one who had followed the things of Jesus right up until the beginning. That’s how I’m interpreting, “For some time past.” And we we will find in his gospel. Luke is careful to record even the childhood of Jesus, hist birth, and the happenings before his birth.
Second, Luke is joining in with many others who are writing down testimonies of the early church and the life of Jesus.
Luke 1:1 ESV
Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us,
This isn’t something that one guy has dreamed up. Many are writing down testimonies because an incredible thing has happened. I don’t think Luke is necessarily writing in spite of these guys as if they had done a bad job, rather, he’s stating that he is doing something that others are also doing. It gives credibility to his work.
And third, Luke is writing in accord with early eyewitness testimonies (as are the many others who are writing). Look at verse two.
Luke 1:2 ESV
just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us,
These things that he is writing about have been given to him by eyewitnesses. People who walked with Jesus, who talked with Jesus, people who maybe even prayed with Jesus, have shared their stories.
And Luke having carefully studied all these things records them for us. Once you get to the book of Acts Luke was likely an eyewitness to many of the events himself.

What does it say and to us?

I guess what I want to get at here is that this book was not just for Theophilus. It wasn’t just for unbelievers at his time that they might be convinced of the gospel. And it certainly wasn’t only for the early church. This trustworthy volume of the account of Christ written by Luke to Theophilus is just as much intended for you.
> Lifting up Bible
Consider what we have here in our hands. What we have the opportunity to preach through these next few months. We have Holy Spirit inspired, carefully researched, and eyewitness testimony founded accounts of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
And as we stated previously, these words are not meant to simply inform you about Jesus, but to transform you to be like him. Though Luke doesn’t state that as his purpose, that’s the story that his gospel tells. There is power to save in these words.

What’s Luke Trying to Do in His Gospel?

So then what does the gospel say. What is Luke trying to communicate? What exactly is orderly about his account?
I’d like to propose five points that I think helpfully subdivide the book that will help us to have an orientation toward what Luke is trying to accomplish. These are the big picture ideas that will guide us as we explore this gospel.
The Arrival of Jesus Signifies Salvation for the World (Luke 1:5-4:13)
Jesus Exemplifies How God Will Fulfill His Mission to Save the World (Luke 4:14-9:50)
Jesus Shows That the Fulfillment of God’s Redemptive Purpose is the Formation of a Wholly Faithful People (Luke 9:51-19:27 )
Jesus Accomplishes the Redemption of the Faithful through the Cross (Luke 19:28-23:56 )
Jesus Enlightens the Faithful to the Global Mission of Redemption (Luke 24:1-53)
These major divisions largely follow what you would find from other pastors or commentators, as most who try to outline Luke end up breaking at similar key markers. Markers which are geographic in nature. For example, in Luke 9:51 the text makes a shift away from Jesus ministering in Galilee and he begins traveling to Jerusalem where the gospel will find its climax.
Luke 9:51 ESV
When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.
And this major section would run until Luke 19:27, with Luke 19:28 marking his arrival to the outskirts of Jerusalem.
Luke 19:28 ESV
And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.
And when combined with Acts, these geographical divisions become even stronger. In Luke, Jesus makes his way to Jerusalem in order to secure salvation for all the world, and in Acts, having commissioned his disciples at the resurrection to preach the kingdom of God, the disciples make their way out of Jerusalem and into the world.
I also find these geographical markers in Luke to be of good value for dividing up the book, because within each of them there are themes that arise.
So as we begin walking through these, have your Bibles open. We’ll be reading select texts from Luke’s Gospel

The Arrival of Jesus Signifies Salvation for the World (Luke 1:4-4:13)

Our first section, running from Luke 1:5-4:13 shows that Jesus Arrival Signifies Salvation for the World. Here we will find the birth narratives of Christ and of John the Baptist, the Magnificat of Mary, and Jesus in the Temple.
One such place where the theme of this section is most bold is in Zechariah’s prophecy concerning his son, John the Baptist. Read with me @ Luke 1:76-78.
Luke 1:76–78 ESV
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
So, Zechariah prophecies that his son will give the knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins. If you know the story you know that John the Baptist goes before Jesus, announcing his coming, and calls people to repent. Jesus is that salvation
And Luke continues to make that plain to Theophilus and his readers. For example in Luke 2:11, when the angels announce the birth of Christ to the shepherds. Read with me.
Luke 2:11 ESV
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
And again, in Luke 2:29-32, Jesus is proclaimed as Savior by a righteous and devout man named Simeon when he sees the infant Jesus in the temple. Let’s read there.
Luke 2:29–32 ESV
“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”
Here not only does Simeon reveal that Christ is God’s salvation, but that this salvation is for all peoples. It’s for the whole world! A light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.
Luke will carry this theme forward throughout his Gospel and through Acts. That though the prophecies concerning Jesus came through the Jews, the purview of his saving grace reaches far beyond Jerusalem to the ends of the earth!

Jesus Exemplifies How God Will Fulfill His Mission to Save the World (Luke 4:14-9:50)

Jesus Shows That the Fulfillment of God’s Redemptive Purpose is the Formation of a Wholly Faithful People (Luke 9:51-19:27)

Jesus Accomplishes the Redemption of the Faithful through the Cross (Luke 19:28-23:56)

Jesus Enlightens the Faithful to the Global Mission of Redemption (Luke 24:1-53)

Conclusion

When I think back on my years of scouting I remember many things, but if I was to say anything of the fruit it bore in me, its that it matured me and made me a better man. Wouldn’t you like to look back at the end of our time in Luke, and say, look what God did in me through his words. He made me into what I read. A righteous person, like his son, and passionate about the spread of his church.

Applications of Luke’s Gospel

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