Even those not in church have likely heard these famous words during the Christmas Season, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people; for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” This well-known phrase comes as part of the angel’s discourse to the shepherds announcing that the promised Messiah from the pages of the Old Testament was being born to the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem. The entire passage can be found in the gospel of Luke, the most commonly quoted book in Christmas plays and the like. God of course is the ultimate Author of all Scripture, but He did choose to work through persons and personalities to bring about the Word which He superintended. During this month’s newsletter we will focus on looking at Luke, the man used to write two important books in the canon of Scripture.
Luke Was A Gentile (Acts 16:9-10)…Luke was a Gentile! WOW! You may wonder why I place such an exclamation and emphasis upon such a simple fact. But trust me, it is a simple fact worth much laud and fanfare. In Genesis 3:15, just after the Fall in the Garden of Eden, God promised a Messiah who would come to redeem mankind. Beginning in the twelfth chapter of Genesis, it becomes clear that the Lord has chosen the line of Abraham through which to bring the promised Messiah. Though the Deliverer would be of the Jews (according to the flesh), the Deliverance He would win would be a blessing to all people who would receive (Gen. 12:3)! The rest of the Old Testament unfolds telling the ups and downs of the Jews with the clear underlying theme that in the midst of God’s chosen people’s internal failings and external persecutions the promised Messiah was still assuredly on the way! By the time Jesus was born in the flesh the prevailing ideology of the Jewish religious leaders (and of the Jews as a whole) was that the Messiah was coming to deliver the Children of Abraham from the Romans and any power that would persecute or dominate them. They thought He would be a King like David or Solomon who would put Jerusalem and the Jewish race at large back on the map. A spiritual emphasis on deliverance from sin and the inclusion of Gentiles (whom many Jews referred to as “dogs”) in the prophesied blessing was far from the minds of most of Abraham’s descendants of Jesus’ day. However, as God had promised, the salvation from sin that Jesus would bring and buy with His own blood, a deliverance far greater than any earthly exodus or exaltation could afford, was indeed extended to ALL who would believe, both Jew and Gentile alike (John 3:16; Romans 1:16)! The fact that Luke was a Gentile who was not only saved, who was not only used as a minister of the gospel, but who was also Divinely chosen to write the Book of Acts and the Gospel of Luke shows that God fulfills His promises to the uttermost! (note: these two books together are greater in length than the writings of the Apostle Paul) Glory to God in the highest indeed! The Savior born truly was for ALL people! (Luke 2:10-11).
Luke Was A Beloved Physician (Col. 4:14)…Luke was a physician! WOW! Now I will admit that I don’t find as much profundity or praise in the fact that Luke was a physician as I do in the truth that he was a Gentile. Still, I do believe it’s worth mentioning. Now in order to receive salvation Luke certainly had to repent of sin, but he did not need to repent for being a physician because being a physician is not a sin! Why do I bring this point out? There seems to be a mindset among some Christians that doctors are somehow evil and that a believer going to see one is showing a lack of faith in some way. Search the Scriptures and you will find that there were doctors who charged for their services and yet were not able to help the physical condition of their patient (Mark 5:26). You will also discover that people were rebuked for putting their trust solely in physicians while neglecting to seek the Lord (2 Chr. 16:12). But you can scan from Genesis to Revelation and you will not find a single verse that commands doctors not be seen or that condemns doctors for the sole reason of being doctors or that implies that someone who sees a doctor is to be viewed as lacking in faith. The Christian certainly seeks God first and foremost about all issues of life, including the physical realm. The Christian puts faith in the truths that Jesus took stripes for our healing and that His power is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Isa. 53:5; Heb. 13:8). However, the Christian also knows that every good and perfect gift, even if it were to come through the hands of a physician that may even deny God’s existence (though there are certainly many godly doctors), ultimately comes from the hand of Almighty God (James 1:17)! Miracles and Medicine need not be viewed as enemies or as mutually exclusive quantities.
Luke Was A Great Historian (Luke 1:1-4)…It is notable that the man used by God to author two books of the Bible, including the gospel which contains the most famous Christmas passages, wasn’t one of the original 12 Disciples and wasn’t there to personally witness most of the events about which he wrote. So, where did Luke get his information? Of course, the overarching source of the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts is God Himself, Who superintended and inspired all of the canonical writings. That being said, it cannot be overlooked that part of the process the Lord used to bring about Luke’s writings was that the beloved physician traveled alongside Paul to many places, including Jerusalem, and in the course of these travels was able to interview many people who were eyewitnesses of the life of Christ. Can you imagine being in the same room with Mary as she tells you of the angelic visitation declaring to her that though she was a Virgin she would conceive and give birth to the Son of God who would be her Savior and the Savior for all who would believe?! Luke’s declaration that he was careful in his investigation of the matters about which he spoke and his giving of many historical facts such as places and names of rulers of the day open his writings up to historical scrutiny.
Sir William Ramsey (1852-1916) was a noted historian and scholar. He did not believe in the Bible or in Christ as Savior and determined to take an expedition to the regions of biblical times in an effort to prove that Luke’s writings were false. Much to his surprise, the more he studied the more he found that Luke was a historian of the highest degree. Far from discrediting Christianity, Ramsay became a convert to the Christian faith! Now, the Bible is not primarily a history textbook, but when it does speak to history it is accurate and without error in all that it affirms. The Bible also is not primarily a science textbook, but when it does speak to science it is accurate and without error in all that it affirms. (I am amazed at how quickly Christians think they need to change what unchanging Scripture is clearly teaching in order to be respected by the field of science when the science of today is far different from the science of 100 years ago and the science of 100 years from now will be much different than the science of today!) And still better news, the Bible IS primarily a book telling us of Redemptive History, and what it says concerning sin and the Savior is accurate and without error and will be for all of eternity!
Luke Was A Faithful Friend (Col. 1:14; 2 Tim. 4:9-11)…A faithful friend is a treasure indeed. We may have many acquaintances in life, but close friends, tried and true friends, faithful ‘til the end friends, tend to be few and precious. Luke was just such a faithful friend, companion, and ministry supporter to Paul. The beloved physician was with the Apostle through the highs of preaching the gospel, establishing churches, casting out devils, and even the raising of the dead. But Luke was also there, perhaps more importantly so, with Paul through the lows of being rejected, imprisoned, shipwrecked, and finally even martyred for the cause of Christ.
I encourage you to read Colossians 1:14 and 2 Timothy 4:9-11 and focus on the names of Demas and Luke. The former (Demas) is named as an associate of Paul in Colossians but as an apostate in 2 Timothy who has not only left the Apostle Paul but also left the Christian faith he once espoused because of his love for “this present world.” The latter (Luke) was called “beloved” in Colossians and named as the sole individual who was still with Paul (at least in physical presence) in 2 Timothy, a book written by the Apostle as he was in prison and perhaps within 2 weeks of being beheaded for the gospel’s sake. Indeed, Luke was faithful to Paul, and more importantly Luke was faithful to the faith. May we love the Lord Jesus Christ with all that we are, with all that we have, and through all of our days!